Truly Wonderstruck

Brian Selznick is really carving out a niche for himself. In the world of endless series books and feeble efforts to write the next Harry Potter or Hunger Games, Selznick has snuck into the literary world with true magnificence. Starting out as an illustrator for beloved kids’ books like Frindle and others, he nearly revolutionized the literary genre with The Invention of Hugo Cabret, a mix of artistic brilliance with a riveting story. For the first time since I can remember, The Invention of Hugo Cabret, perfectly married art with words. Instead of using pictures to illustrate a story, he used pictures to tell some of the story. Add in a historical setting and (some) true events, and Hugo Cabret was a unique and wonderful work of art.

Still, I thought Hugo Cabret was missing something. In spite of its brilliance, there was some parts of it that could’ve delivered a better punch…It’s one of those, I know it when I see it type things. If it was a punch he was missing in Hugo Cabret, his follow-up “Wonderstruck” was nothing short of a thunderclap.

This time he weaves not one but 2 stories into one: the words for one character, and the art for another. Against an even more riveting historical backdrop, he takes the reader through a world that many people may never understand, the World of the Deaf. I’m a child of the 80s, where references to disabilities were either taboo or they were treated pretty blandly and almost forgivingly. People with disabilities were considered the “them” and the “us” should be sympathetic to their challenges. Nowhere was there understanding. Nowhere was there empathy.

Nowhere was there art of experience. At least, not like Wonderstruck.

I’m usually not this drool-over-myself-soppy about a book, but Wonderstruck is something else, Wonderstruck is the art of experience.It’s more than, “this is what the Deaf community has to deal with everyday”. It’s more than this is how we should be considerate of those with hearing disabilities. It’s “come into our world and see what you can learn from our experience”. Add in that it’s a story, a powerful narrative, brilliantly told with a historical context so under-recognized, but so moving at the same time. In short, Wonderstruck is brilliant because you not only experience the book, but you come away with a renewed sense of understanding.

In short, the book truly lives up to its name. Read the book, and you’ll be wonderstruck, too