Friday, September 28, 2018

Wonderstruck - Brian Selznick

Summary: Ben and Rose secretly wish for better lives. Ben longs for the father he has never known. Rose dreams of a mysterious actress whose life she chronicles in a scrapbook. When Ben discovers a puzzling clue in his mother's room and Rose reads an enticing headline in the newspaper, both children set out alone on desperate quests to find what they are missing.

Set fifty years apart, these two independent stories - Ben's told in words, Rose's in pictures - weave back and worth in symmetry. (Summary and picture from

My Review: Okay, funny story.  

Several years ago, when I was at the yearly books for young readers conference I attend, the coordinators held up a book being given away in a drawing.  It was called Wonderstruck, and it was an advanced reader copy because it wasn't coming out for a while yet.  Everyone turned and whispered to each other, all crossing their fingers.  

And my name was drawn.

I wasn't familiar with the book, or Brian Selznick's other works, but I could tell it was a special book by the way the other people at the conference sneakily made their way over to me later and asked to touch and flip through the book.

Even with that being the case, I didn't read it until this year.

I guess that wasn't really funny ha-ha, more like funny interesting.

Recently I was reminded of this story again, and when I found out it was a story about D/deaf experiences, I knew I wanted to finally read it.  I took American Sign Language in both high school and university, and love learning about that culture.

I loved how Selznick told the story.  We have two protagonists--we get Ben in the 70s who becomes deaf, and we have Rose from the late 20s who is already deaf.  What's cool about how Selznick laid out the story, is that Ben's part is in prose, while Rose's portion is in art.

I've heard that this book fairly well demonstrates what it's like to be in the D/deaf world with some minor errors, but Selznick did his research.  Part of what inspired him to write this book fascinated me--how back in the 20s, deaf and hearing people could all enjoy the movies together (since they were silent pictures and dialogue was put up on the screen).  However, with the advent of talkies, the deaf population was now divided from that world.  He explored that with the character of Rose, and how she finds safety in those silent films, but also in museums.

Ben also has a fascination with museums, as a collector of odd things himself.  Fate takes him to a museum in New York where he tries to comprehend his newfound deafness and discover his heritage.

Even coming in at over 600 pages, this book is actually a quick read (mainly being that probably over half the book is told in pictures).  I enjoyed both stories and how they eventually intertwine.  

My Rating: 4 stars

For the sensitive reader: concerns parental death and children running away from home.

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