What a WONDERful World

Molly McNulty, Staff Writer

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“The things we do outlast our mortality. The things we do are like monuments that people build to honor heroes after they’ve died. They’re like the pyramids that the Egyptians built to honor the pharaohs. Only instead of being made of stone, they’re made out of the memories people have of you.” R.J. Palacio, engraved her words into the hearts of readers, unaware how this quote rings true for the legacy of herself and her novel Wonder. The inspiring story of Auggie Pullman and his journey through life has impacted countless people and families across the globe. This heartwarming film adapted from the best-selling 2012 novel brought Palacio’s words to life in such a beautiful way. I will never know what it feels like to be Auggie Pullman, a 10 year old boy with a disease that has completely altered his life, but after reading and watching Wonder I have gained a deeper respect and admiration for the “real” Auggies of this world. Meaning that Auggie’s condition is not a matter of fiction, other people around the world suffer the same challenges as him which is why this book, and now movie,  is so powerful.

Due to a rare craniofacial disorder called Treacher Collins syndrome which affects an estimated 1 in 50,000 people, Auggie has eyes that slant downward, sparse eyelashes,  and small, or unusually formed ears as well as other facial anomalies he was born with. Even after more than 27 surgeries Auggie will never appear “ordinary.” However, despite physical deformities, people with Treacher Collins syndrome usually have normal intelligence.

Auggie, for example, was exceptionally intelligent and adapted to mainstream school curriculum with ease. When he first attended school his classmates expected him to struggle because the only teacher he ever had was his mother–nobody had faith in his potential. But Auggie proved them wrong and excelled academically especially in science class where he bonded with his newfound best friend and lab partner, Jack Will. Throughout the movie Auggie, played by 11 year old Jacob Tremblay, builds strong friendships with a select few students who were able to see past Auggie’s appearance and reveal his inner beauty.

What makes Auggie so special is his radiant spirit and perseverance through the many obstacles he faces. He learns to look past the people who stare and accept that who he was will always be who he is. Wonder sends a strong message regarding self image and acceptance that diversifies the typical family film. Auggie is different than most children physically, but inside he is no different than anyone else. He likes to play games and run around like any other child. But he lives life with a mask that never seems to come off, as a constant target for humiliation. People point and stare as if there isn’t an actual human being behind Auggie’s unusual face.

I fell in love with his indomitable strength and courage when the other kids tried to bring him down. When the class bully, Julian, rudely inquired about Auggie’s face he replied later on with a snarky comment correcting Julian’s poor grammar. He exemplified that just a few words can go a long way.

Over the course of the movie, I watched Auggie flourish with the help of his supportive family and newfound friends. Mrs. Pullman played by Julia Roberts, fosters a loving and reassuring environment for Auggie while Mr. Pullman played by Owen Wilson incorporates aspects of humor which enrich the charming feeling of family love. I watched him go from a timid, scared young boy afraid to even associate with other kids into a more confident and happy boy beloved by many.

Wonder depicts many evils such as the rumored “plague” which was a malicious game about Auggie the other kids made up, but it also reveals the power of friendship and love when kids who Auggie hardly knew defended him in a fight against older kids who were picking on him. It is a movie centered around the challenges of Auggie Pullman, but also on his effect on the people around him.

I highly recommend this movie for people of all ages, whether you’re young or old, boy or girl this movie will touch your heart.