Welcome back to the blog tour for Auggie & Me!
I've been hoping for an expansion of Auggie's world, so I was delighted when I heard that we were going to revisit Auggie's world through three new short stories.
This is not only a wonderful visit back into Auggie's world, but also a nice, thoughtful examination of human compassion and empathy for younger readers.
Paperback, 303 pages
Expected publication: August 27th 2015 by Corgi Childrens (first published August 18th 2015)
Format read: ARC via publisher
These stories will encourage readers to have compassion, understanding and empathy, as we learn more on how these three individuals fit into the tapestry that is Auggie's life.
These stories are an extra peek at Auggie before he started at Beecher Prep and during his first year there. Readers get to see him through the eyes of Julian, the bully; Christopher, Auggie’s oldest friend; and Charlotte, Auggie’s new friend at school. Together, these three stories are a treasure for readers who don’t want to leave Auggie behind when they finish Wonder.
However, I also think that these stories are much more than just "expansions". After reading all three of them in a row, I think that Palacio has written three lovely, insightful looks at what it means to be show grace, humility and empathy, but most importantly: what it is to live, and learn from one's mistakes and life choices.
The Julian Chapter
Out of all three stories, I found "The Julian Chapter" to be the most compelling. R.J. Palacio digs deep into bully Julian's background, showing the other side of the once-notorious bully's tale. We see how much of his behavior is learned from his environment, including parents who have become so caught up in their perceived versions of right and wrong; they forget that they have a young son who is learning from their every move.
This story is a smart, apt reminder that there are often a multitude of reasons for a person's behavior, and as much as we may dislike them, we shouldn't take their actions at face value. Nor, should we write them off. They can still learn and change for the better, and it's rewarding to see that evolution slowly, gradually take place.
While I found Julian's story compelling, I had a ot of sympathy for Christopher in "Pluto". Palacio creates a firm foundation for Auggie and Christopher's friendship, but also shows how over time, Christopher begins to feel the peer pressure of adolescence and adolescent behavior.
Christopher's story is a sympathetic study on how it can be a struggle between doing the right thing and the cool thing, and what it takes to balanace both.
Charlotte's story is a quiet one. She's kind to Auggie and those around him as we see in Wonder, but Palacio makes it a point to show how her life during Auggie's first year, is actually filled with different dramas of her own.
Though it's never overtly stated, Palacio has done a fine job of showing how a young teen like Charlotte may appear a certain way on the outside - kind, pleasant and likable - but clearly has a lot going on behind-the-scenes. So the fact that kindness and thoughtfulness comes so innately to her, is something that's both appreciated and admirable.
It's definitely not easy always being the nice one, or the "goody-two-shoes" of the crowd; as Charlotte herself explains, but it does ultimately make the world a little brighter, and a little kinder.
R.J. Palacio provide enriching looks into the lives of those who surround Auggie, both in the form of friend and foe. She's wonderfully thoughtful and measured in her approaching, showing in Julian, Christopher and Charlotte's cases, there are many layers which make up a person's personality, as well as their capacity to feel empathy, kindness and understanding. And while people may evolve differently because of their background and situation, it's never too late to go back to that foundation of humanity.
I was enchanted by this trio of short stories, and I have no doubt that you will be too.
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