Review of “Wonderful”
by Melody Scott
I was told a long time ago that babies are born as little animals and the parents’ job was to civilize them. I think “Wonderful” substantiates this.
It’s a story about several things: 1. Overcoming adversity--and what stages are involved. 2. How much environment plays in a child’s development. 3. 4. Is it worse to be disfigured or mentally crippled? 4. To treat an obviously abnormally challenged child as a normal child--realizing that at some point they have to be in a normal world environment in order to learn how to handle it.
I have two personal stories (at least ones I’ve monitored for years), whereby two sons of relatives had retinisis pigmatosa and would be both blind at some point in their childhood. One child approached it realistically as encouraged by his parents, and “got ready” by learning trades he could do without sight. Pretty amazing. The other child was mired in self-pity and decided he couldn’t handle it. He was a casualty of life.
Another was a child of friends who was born with a bunch of defects, the worst one being constant seizures. He was therefore drugged to avoid as many seizures as possible, turning in him into somewhat of a zombie. He was given no slack by his family and expected to participate in all the other three childrens’ activities. Halleluiah, this year (at his age of 50) a medical cure (surgery) (only one surgeon in the world--praise his hands!) was found and he has had NO seizures since. John currently is working on eliminating the drugs a little at a time that his body is so accustomed to.
In “Wonderful” we saw a metamorphosis from all reactions being negative to acceptance of the situation August was afflicted with. I think, since children accept physicalogical abnormal looks, August’s parents made play dates for him with other little children, who then grew older as August aged. They were already friends before the abnormality was noticed. This stood August in good stead with Summer and with the sister’s friend who was older, but understood August’s challenges and supplied him with a helmet, among other things, so he could be anonymous for pieces of time, then watched all he went through growing up. She wanted August’s family for their overwhelming love given to whoever was nearby.
There were the parents who sympathized and understood the challenges August and his family faced, and there were parents in the school who had taught their children that challenges were so abnormal that they could not be acceptable. The children were really reflections of their parents’ attitudes.
Overall, August’s parents were the heroes in this book in being willing to throw August to the wolves and send him to a private/public school when he was 5th grade level. The children reacted in every possible spectrum and it took a year for acceptance to win out because of the characters of the children--both those who wanted to be admirable people and those who thought they might “catch” something from August. I’m not mentioning the mean kids because they were trying out meanness to see if it would work for them I think. But of course it was a failed experiment in the end.