Saturday, September 3, 2011
My family and I took a short road trip to visit our Indiana family today, and I brought Wonderstruck along to read in the car. Wonderstruck is the newest work by Brian Selznick, author of the Caldecott medal-winning The Invention of Hugo Cabret. I was so engrossed in this book that it pained me to leave it in the car when we arrived. I was drawn in from the first page, which is a striking sketch of two wolves running in a forest. From that point on, the book tells two parallel stories, one through text and one through the lovely sketches. As the story progresses, you begin to see overlaps and seeming coincidences, until eventually the two stories become one.
In the text, we are following Ben, a young man who has recently lost his mother. We meet Ben as he shares a fitful night of sleep in a room with his cousin, Robby. Ben has moved in with his aunt and uncle after his mother died. As he tries to ignore Robby's radio so that he can go to sleep, he turns his good ear to the pillow to drown out the sound, and we learn that he is deaf in one ear. As the story progresses, Ben loses his hearing entirely. This adds an extra sense of urgency to the ensuing journey that we take with him. In dark hallways and dusty rooms, Ben begins to find out that all of the small intricacies that he thought made him odd actually explained parts of himself that he had not previously known existed and he finds answers to questions he never knew he had.
This book was just as incredible as I had suspected it would be, and all throughout, I just wanted to give Ben a hug. I can't possibly do this book justice. Brian Selznick creates a lovely, urgent, melancholy world within the confines of the things that I personally hold so dear - books, ephemera, history, and family.
Who should read it?
The better question is 'who shouldn't?' I plan on passing this on to a former professor of mine after I share it with my 7 year old son. The story is aching and universal.
Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick will be available for sale on September 13th, 2011.