Born with a facial abnormality Auggie already knows what it’s like to be different, but without the security of his family and close friends he steps out into the reality of school life and truly discovers the trials and tribulations school can bring when we don’t fit in with the expected norm and how wonderful, but also cruel that world can sometimes be.
Wonder is both a book and now a film and reflects the struggles that not only Auggie experiences, but that of the children around him. Wanting to fit in we witness the struggles the children experience with their own fears around that adjustment and often conforming to the pressure of others. Because Auggie is different, he is sometimes treated as though he has an infectious disease and often given a wide berth as a result. This leaves Auggie feeling isolated and hurt.
Ironically as the story unfolds, he’s not the only one in his family struggling. Via, his ever loving protective sister has been facing life alone since Auggie was born, but differently.
Growing up with Auggie, Via described her world as the one that revolved around the son. As a result of Auggies sickness and numerous operations Via’s parents focus was very much on Auggie and rightly so, she would tell you. But when her closest friend unexpectedly pulls away from the close relationship they’ve had for years, she experiences the feeling of confusion, rejection, loneliness and isolation.
What the story tells you is that while Auggie is visually different, those around him are also struggling, but differently. The narrative cleverly provides us a glimpse into the unusual side of understanding the other person’s story and while on the surface their reaction appears cruel, especially where Auggie is concerned, it provides a unique understanding around their own fears and how they are searching for their own place in the world.
The desire to fit in and be accepted are part of human nature. None of us want to be left out and from a survival perspective we are not meant to be. Historically, this would have been dangerous, how could we survive this world alone? Regardless of the survival instinct, this is also an important stage of our development and can be experienced as challenging for some. How we experience those challenges and more importantly how we are supported through those challenges shape who we become as adults.
The film hi-lights the importance of understanding that what we see on the outside, may not always reflect the inner turmoil of a person. Even harder is the ability to articulate that experience at an age when they are still learning about themselves and the world they live in.
Wonder is a remarkable story of how others learn through kindness that the world can be a very different place and we all have our struggles to find our own place within it. Expect tears, painful reminders of growing up, but also wonder at the adversities of life. “Auggie’s extraordinary journey will unite and prove you can’t blend in when you were born to stand out.” (YouTube, 2017)
Picture: geralt (2012) ‘Cinema-strip’ [Online] Available at: https://pixabay.com/en/cinema-strip-movie-film-video-64074/ (Accessed: 3 January 2019)
Film: Wonder, Lionsgate Movies Published on 24 May 2017 Staring Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson and Jacob Tremblay
Trailer available on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ngiK1gQKgK8 (Accessed: 3 January 2019)