Welcome to my blog. I often think I was born with a book in my hand. I have always enjoyed reading, but more importantly, talking about books. This blog is partially about reviews, but is really a forum to talk about what I'm reading, and express all of the thoughts and feelings that there simply isn't room for in a professional review. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on your favourite books as you follow my reading journey.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Wonderstruck by Wonderstruck

Gunflint Lake, Minnesota, June 1977 and Hoboken, New Jersey, October 1927: Two stories set fifty years apart, weave back and forth until they converge at the end. The first, Ben's story is told with words. The second, Rose's story, is told entirely in pictures. What do these stories have in common? Most importantly is that both children are deaf. They also both run away, and ultimately end up at the Museum of Natural History in New York City. There is also something else that will link these stories together, but that's up to you to find out for yourself.

When I first saw The Invention of Hugo Cabret, I immediately knew that Brian Selznick was something special. I had never seen any book that was as beautiful or as unique as that, and until Wonderstruck came along last month, I hadn't again.

Being one of those readers who actually reads the acknolwedgement pages, I was particularly struck by a comment that he made about early cinema. Before the "Talkies" as they were often referred to, movies were accessible to both the hearing and non-hearing community. Once the talkies came, an entire community was suddenly cut off from this particular form of entertainment, and although there have been some strides made (like captioning in select theatres and movies), it's amazing to think that 80+ years from when Rose's story begins, it is still largely true.

Rose's story is much like the world she lives in- silent, and entirely visual. There is some text in the illustration, but the author challenges readers to do something that perhaps we don't do enough- really look at what you are seeing. The illustrations are the story, and without a narrator to tell you what you need to know about the character, they become doubly important to pay attention to.

Ben's story is somewhat more straightforwardly told, but is equally as compelling. What develops is the story of a lonely boy who latches onto the idea of finding the father he never knew after his mother's death, and who is learning how to cope in a recently silent world. 

Although the story is largely about deaf culture, it is also about much more than that. With Wonderstruck, Selznick reminds readers how much magic and wonder there actually is to be seen in this world.