I had read Wonder as it was part of the recommended list I saw in my school. And it held me captive from the first word. Wonder told the story of August, a boy having craniofacial deformity. But the second book Auggie & Me tells the story from three different perspectives of Julian (the guy who bullied August), Christopher(his childhood best friend) and Charlotte (one of his schoolmates). It is really quite interesting the way everyone sees the situation in his or her way. Is Julian really a bully? Is Christopher right to hide Auggie from his new friends? Is Charlotte ‘nice’ enough to August or is she just pretending?
The first story, Julian’s Chapter, is about Auggie’s school bully, Julian, and his point of view. For him, he hasn’t been bullying August, instead August has been stealing his friends, giving him nightmares and terrorising his reputation in the schoolyard. Julian feels left out from his social network by Auggie’s arrival. And the resulting anger and frustration comes out without understanding that his actions could not only hurt but deeply wound Auggie. Nevertheless he realises his fault and makes amends. That’s what I like the most because kids are like that. They do not harp on the feelings for too long, unlike adults who can brood for long.
The second story, Pluto, is from August’s best friend Christopher’s way of seeing things. He grew up with Auggie, so his face isn’t anything weird to him. He only first realised that his friend was anything different to every other kid his age when he was four years old, and from there he was in a sort of pickle – be loyal to his life-long friend or be teased mercilessly by his new school friends?A question that many kids face in their lives when they shift schools.
The third story in this collection is called Shing-A-Ling, and is written from the opinions of Charlotte, a girl who was chosen to introduce August to his new school. It examines her social life, and the different decisions she made, some of them relating to August, others not. We have all experienced one such person who is a teacher’s pet and thus happens to do things which they would not do otherwise.
This collection of the three stories is not only thought-provoking but also draws our attention to the fact that we bring up our children in a very protected manner, which renders them defenseless and clueless when faced with harsh realities of life. We should bring up our children to be strong in both mind and body. Just as we feed their body, we should also feed their mind to be open vessels receptive to every learning experience.The book will encourage readers to see classmates, friends, and family in a new light. It is more of a spin-off than a sequel to the much-acclaimed Wonder and digs deep into themes of kindness, friendship, accountability, and integrity with a deft understanding of middle school social drama.
Auggie & Me in a nutshell follows three students in vastly different circumstances learning important lessons about relationships: Julian confronts his own cruelty and his enabler parents, Christopher acknowledges his selfishness and the work needed to stay close to important friends and family, and Charlotte expands her circle to embrace new friends.
What is heart warming is author R.J. Palacio’s gift for understanding the pressures of middle school. As in Wonder, some characters and situation seem a little too shiny and happy to be true. But they’re presented with such sincerity and faith in the basic goodness of people, it’s hard to take issue with it. So go for it, no matter what your age.