I just finished an inspiring book -- WONDER by R. J. Palacio -- a middle grade novel about a young boy, Auggie Pullman, with a rare genetic facial deformity and his first year in middle school -- and spoiler alert -- it all turns out okay. There are cool inspirational quotes along the way such as "You're gonna reach the sky..Fly... Beautiful child," from the Eurythmics "Beautiful Child." Different characters struggle with his deformity -- his own, his sister's, his best friend's -- and except for a handful of stock bullying bad kids -- they all turn out to be good, kind kids and see past what is obvious -- and to the inner self of Auggie. I envied his parents -- hard-working, caring, decent people -- a mother who said all the right things. At the end, his class gives him a standing ovation at the graduation ceremonies. Auggie soars. I loved this novel. I cried. I cheered. It's a novel to read with your kids. But I could never write it -- never, ever.
I think to write a happy novel -- one with characters that are essentially good people with decent values--one had to live a life filled with people who are essentially good. For the most part, I didn't have those kind of people in my life growing up except for my Pop. He was a good father, a good man, too often overwhelmed with being a single parent. His words of wisdom were blunt: the way you make your bed is the way you'll sleep in it. I love him still for trying.
I don't know if R. J. Palacio had a happy life or not -- but I know that mine was broken. One way I've put it back it back together is writing. Even so, the pieces are never as happy as WONDER. But I'm thankful there are writers like her that can write 'happy' -- a wonder to me. Caroline
coming out in February, 2014
from St. Martin's Press