Since Wonder was one of my favorite books of 2012, I was thrilled to discover last month that R.J. Palacio was writing an addendum to Auggie Pullman's story. Although Wonder is told from the perspective of many different characters, the primary antagonist, Julian, never has a voice in Wonder. The Julian Chapter aims to rectify that by giving the background of Julian's story in his own voice.
I admit to being a little nervous about reading Julian's story. I wasn't sure what Palacio could write to redeem Julian or his behavior in my mind. Even as I read the quote on the first page, "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle," I was unsure what could possibly be in this bully's past that would account for his atrocious behavior. I think the beauty of Palacio's telling of Julian's story is that when you start to develop some sympathy for Julian, even though it is insufficient to justify his actions, you realize that he's just a 10 year old kid behaving as 10 year old kids sometimes do, especially when the adults in their lives do little to steer them toward kind or generous conduct.
Ultimately, I was grateful that a new character appeared toward the end of Julian's story, his Parisian grandmother. Finally an adult who could gently lead him toward kindness! And as in Wonder, her story, and ultimately Julian's story, will provoke tears by the time you are finished reading.
The Julian Chapter is currently available in eBook or audio version. Wonder is available in our store under the Books with Strong Males category. 365 Days of Wonder, with each of Mr. Browne's precepts (the English teacher's principles to live by referred to in the books) will be published in August.