Tuesday, 12 March 2013
The story of 'Auggie' tackles an unusual subject with a light touch. 'Auggie' is a child born with a severe facial disfigurement: 'I won't describe what I look like. Whatever you're thinking, it's probably worse.'
At the age of 10 having been home educated to accommodate numerous surgeries on his face, his parents agree he should try school.
The story covers this transition time, and is told through a number of child narrators, including Auggie, his big sister, and the children who befriend him.
This is a clever narrative device, allowing multiple perspectives.
However, our group felt there were too many voices, saying similar things. We enjoyed older sister Via's story, which was touching and unexpected, but the other narratives were less revealing.
One thing we disagreed with the author about was the need to keep the voices to the children. There was a strong feeling that the headteacher, Mr Tushman, should have been given a few chapters, and the group were nauseated by his lack of intervention in Auggie's terrible experiences. He fulfilled our impression of head teachers as omnipotent figures who appear to know everything, but do nothing.
I asked the group to think about the main theme of the book, which they judged to be 'kindness'. They felt this a relatively small theme, and this ultimately, a small story, in that Auggie's struggle is not a tragedy. The safety net of his loving family making everything possible for him, despite the prejudice of a few people.