About ten years ago, as part of my graduate program, I took a course in teaching young adult literature. For months after that class, friends lovingly wondered when I would begin reading adult books again. Seriously, how could books written for 12-18 years hold that much wonderment for a twenty- something married woman who was well past first periods, first boyfriends, and first days of high school?
Remember, folks. These were the days before the mass consumption of YA books like Harry Potter and Twilight. You know, before it was cool to date vampires...
I wasn't just an avid YA reader; I became a pusher of YA books. As a young teacher, I couldn't wait to introduce my students to the wonderland of books that awaited them in the world of YA.
Unfortunately, it seemed we never had enough money to buy anything outside of the classics, and we had to shuffle around the few copies I could buy on my own or borrow from like- minded friends. While it was discouraging to not have books to keep up with the interest, it was exciting to see kids want to read. I knew I was on to something. Something wonderful.
Ten years later, I still think young adult literature is wonderful, but until last week, I couldn't tell you the last YA book I had read. Nothing against YA literature, mind you. I haven't read much of anything lately-- unless you want to count books written specifically for the under 4 crowd.
It's awful, I know. Reading is a part of my profession. It's what I do. It's what I preach. Why can't I stay awake to finish a book?
Okay, that last question is completely rhetorical. I think we all know why I can't stay awake.
So, you can imagine how it wondrous it felt last week while I was on vacation to read a entire book. And, guess what I picked to read?
A young adult novel recommended by a group of teachers with whom I work.
Wonder is a book about a fifth grader named Auggie who was born with craniofacial anomalies. Homeschooled all his life due to his medical issues, Auggie is now starting public school for the first time. As if starting middle school isn't hard enough, imagine life from Auggie's perspective.
Because I also love a good book trailer, why don't I give you sneak peek?
Wow. Before you run out and buy the book, hang with me until the end.
Can you see why I love young adult literature?
Aren't we all just kids stuck in bigger bodies? Aren't we all on some level still trying to figure out how to fit in, how to navigate bad hair days, relationships, and the fear of the unknown?
Books like Wonder speak to the part of us that never ages, the part that doesn't feel any older than we did the awkward day of our first middle school dance. The part that still hopes we aren't picked last for the team...
Books like Wonder remind us of how hard it is be a kid, no matter how often we tell our kids they don't know how good they have it. They remind us how the experience of being a kid is at once eternally the same and increasingly more difficult.
Books like Wonder remind me of the wonder of reading, of how a book can force me to put on new eyes.
I read this book through the eyes of a parent to preschoolers, and I cringed to think of sending my babies to school, to what Auggie's dad compares to "sending lambs to slaughter."
I read this book through the eyes of a parent, like Auggie's friend, Jack Will's mom, who tells Jack that sometimes we forget just how good we have it.
I read this book through the eyes of Auggie's mom, and I wondered how I would react to my son's tears and heartfelt desire just to be ordinary.
I read this book as a human, and I found myself wondering how often I live the precept Auggie's teacher shares with his students: If you have a choice between being right or being kind-- choose kindness.
Is it any wonder why I think Wonder is so wonderful?
Is it any wonder why I want to share this wonder with the world?
I am paying this blessing forward. I want to share a copy of Wonder with a MaMe Musings' reader, and all I ask in return is that once you are finished with the book, you give it to someone else.
Leave a comment here or on Facebook. Tell me your favorite book. Tell me a joke. Tell me hi. Just tell me you saw this post and are interested in reading one of the best books ever.
In a couple of days, I will randomly pick someone who has commented and will send that person a copy of Wonder.
Because a book is always better when shared with friends...