Thursday, November 7, 2013

The Book of the Turned Down Pages

Normally a book review would go on the Book Review page - the one that's been even more neglected then the blog itself. But this time, this one time, the book review has as much to do with life as it does with the book. 

I'm not sure how to attend the book club gathering on Friday night. I just joined it, and the second book assigned has turned me into a quivering, sobbing mess. How do you approach a group of women you barely know to discuss something you lived through, that maybe they didn't? Especially when you are still hesitant at any social gathering involving women - because you lived through what the book is about. That's a recommendation for a book, ain't it?

The book is "Wonder" by R.J. Palacio. It tells the story of a fifth grader who has been home schooled, and is attending middle school with other kids for the first time in his life. Sounds like a simple premise until you realize that the book is an elegant rendition of what it is like to be bullied. It starts with the viewpoint of August Pullman, a child with severe facial anomalies. Through the book, it switches to other kids so we get multiple viewpoints of kids.

By page 79, I started turning down pages where I had a story to share. There are a lot of pages turned down. While I didn't have the extremity of issues which August (Auggie) had to deal with, I was bullied pretty much from the time my grown up teeth started coming in. See my grown up teeth acted like children. They went everywhere they could get away with. I had teeth come in where teeth already were, and teeth show up where they weren't supposed to be. My upper jaw grew too much, and my lower jaw not enough. Nothing screams 'make fun of me' better than a ten year old wearing orthodontic head gear to school. Yep, fun times. Even after braces (five years of braces - at a time where very few kids had braces), I had a mile of gum exposed every time I smiled. Any wonder there are very few pictures of me? I ducked, and hid, and often still do. Old habits really can be hard to break. After I was married, my husband was so very supportive of me as I had maxillofacial surgery - in other words, both jaws broken to fix them. Yep - it was that bad.

And this book is the most true depiction of what it is like to be different - the glances, the cruelty, the hurt, the courage it can take to show up somewhere, anywhere. The book amazed me as it so perfectly captured the reactions, and the reality. From the people who are kind to you, just because they think it gives them points, to the ones who are nice to you, and enjoy spending time with you - unless their "cool" group is around...and most importantly it shows the effect true kindness can have.

So I'm recommending this book. Maybe you'll turn down a page and share a story with your kids. Maybe, just maybe it will help.

Evelyn's Precepts - Kindness is a quiet illustration of strength of character.

"You are perfect to me." - Pink

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