Tuesday, 23 December 2014

The Julian Chapter: A Wonder Story

Author: R.J Palacio
Genre: Young Adult, Modern Fiction
Type: e-audiobook
Source: Local Public Library
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
First Published: May 13, 2014
First Lines: "Okay, okay, okay."

Book Synopsis from GoodReads:  A brand new, exclusive chapter from the bestselling, award-winning, and critically acclaimed novel Wonder.

Over 1 million people have read Wonder and have fallen in love with Auggie Pullman, an ordinary boy with an extraordinary face. Now readers will have a chance to hear from the book's most controversial character—Julian. 

From the very first day Auggie and Julian met in the pages of the #1 New York Times bestseller Wonder, it was clear they were never going to be friends, with Julian treating Auggie like he had the plague. And while Wonder told Auggie's story through six different viewpoints, Julian's perspective was never shared. Readers could only guess what he was thinking.

Until now. The Julian Chapter will finally reveal the bully's side of the story. Why is Julian so unkind to Auggie? And does he have a chance for redemption?

My Review: I cannot stress strongly enough how much I adored R.J Palacio's debut novel, Wonder.  Let's just say that I adored it with a capital A.  The Julian Chapter is a companion book to Wonder and shows the reader the story from the point of view of Julian, the bully in Wonder.

The Julian Chapter had moments that were touching as well as frustrating but I still didn't feel as emotionally involved in Julian's story as I did with Auggie's.   While I liked and enjoyed the book I can't help but feel that it didn't have as much heart as Wonder.  I wasn't invested into Julian's story as I had been with Auggie's and with the ending that was tied up a little too neat and tidy this book fell a little short for me.  

What this book does gives the reader is another view of how kids navigate the tumultuous world of Grade 5 (which, honestly feels more like grade 7 to me).  I like the fact that the reader gains a better understanding of why Julian treated Auggie so terribly.  But even though Julian's behaviour isn't viewed as acceptable in any way,  the reason why Julian's bullying behaviour begins felt a little contrived.

It was the secondary characters, like Julian's mother and especially Grand-mere, who stood out for me. I  enjoyed how the author brought to light how Julian's parents, specifically his mother who was incredibly frustrating, played a role in his bullying behaviour. But it was Grand-mere voice and story (as well as Torteau's) who stole the show for me.  If only more troubled kids had Grand-mere's like Julian's in their corner, the world would be a much better place. It was her relationship with Torteau that was my favourite part of the book.

Even though Palacio did a good job giving the reader a better look into Julian's take on what happened, I didn't feel nearly the connection to Julian as I did to Auggie.  But that's perhaps not quite fair because Auggie will be one of those main characters that will always stay with me.  Overall, this was a good companion to a truly wonderful book.  If you still haven't picked up Wonder I highly encourage you to do so.  Read it by yourself or even better?  Read it with your kids.  I think reading both Wonder and The Julian Chapter could be very useful to start a dialogue with kids about the effects of bullying.

My Rating: 3.5/5 stars

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