Dear RJ Palacino,
I've always been an enthusiastic reader. I've enjoyed reading my entire life and for 3rd through 6th grade, I read the most books in my whole class. But out of all of these books I've never connected to a book personally as much as yours. I connected to your book Wonder so much because I related and understood your book as it reflected parts my own life.
My sister Lily has many disabilities, such as autism and mitochondrial disease, and others that make her handicapped. She can not walk well, talk, or even think on a normal level. Some of the therapies she does involve doing tasks that toddlers would do, such as eating with a fork or identifying colors, even her own name. As a younger kid, I never even thought twice about it. She was just my sister that couldn't do the same things I could. But then around 3rd and 4th grade, I became very embarrassed by her. I was the kid with the disabled sister that couldn't think. I was the kid with baby toys in their house. I was always hesitant to have friends over to my house because of my sister. Reading your book helped me embrace my sister and recognize that she's a part of my life, and if my friends can't understand that then we shouldn't be friends. I feel like I relate closely to Via. She loves her brother so much, but sometimes she wishes he was normal.
The conflict between Via and August, the parents and Via, and how the other kids view Via, is similar to my life and family. 5th grade was my toughest year for this type of stuff. I was very self-conscious about my sister. I was embarrassed about her. Just how Via felt towards August. Reading your book made me realize that my sister is a part of my life and I should embrace it. Another thing is how my parents treat me compared to my sister. I've always known that she needs more attention and care from our parents. But at times it can feel like they just don't care about me. Reading your book helped me understand that feeling better and cope with it better.
Never have I become so emotional reading a book. When August was being bullied, that hit me hard. I realized that could be happening to my own sister, and I could have no idea. And neither could anybody else because she has no way to communicate with other people. But then seeing the other kids stand up for August helped me see that not all kids are bad, and some will stand up for her.
Thank you for making such a wonderful book. This book changed my life and helped me understand my role with my sister and where and I stand with her. From your book, I've learned more about how children with disabilities think, which helped me understand my sister more which has made a big impact.
- Katie Rohs