Publication Date: September 13th, 2011
Genre: Middle Grade Historical Fiction
Pages: 640 pages
Buy It: Amazon
Ben and Rose secretly wish their lives were different. 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.
Wonderstruck is a wonderful story about two different characters, Ben and Rose. Ben’s story is told through words and Rose’s story is told through pictures. In the third part of the book, their stories intertwine beautifully and surprisingly. Wonderstruck is different from The Invention of Hugo Cabret in the aspect that instead of the story being told by both the words and the pictures, they each tell a separate story (until they intertwine of course). It’s definitely a very different writing style and I love it. The stories are told 50 years apart, Rose’s story in 1927 and Ben’s in 1977.
Ben is a young boy whose mother has just passed away. He lives with his aunt and uncle and two cousins, only 83 steps away from the house he shared with his mother. Ben was born deaf in one ear, and his cousin Robby often makes fun of him for it. One night he sees a light on in their house and sneaks out to investigate it. It turns out to only be his cousin, but he decides to stay and spend some time in his mother’s house. He never knew his father and has always wondered about him. A book and a bookmark lead him to a clue, and a phone number. This is all taking place in the middle of a storm. He decides to pick up the phone and try to call the number, hoping it will lead him to his father. The house is then struck by lightning and he ends up in the hospital, and also ends up completely deaf. It is a couple weeks later that he runs away to New York City to find his father.
Rose is a young girl who is deaf. She lives with her father and you get the sense that she doesn’t really feel like she belongs there or that she is accepted. You also see that she documents the life of one actress. Soon after the story starts, there is an ad in the newspaper about the actress coming to perform in New York City. Rose lives not very far away, in New Jersey and really wants to go, so she runs away to search for the actress. When she arrives in New York, she finds the actress. You learn about why she is so obsessed with the actress and also get to meet her brother, Walter.
This is an amazing story about two young deaf kids who are facing very different problems in a world where they are not entirely accepted by the people around them, until they run away. The way their stories connect in New York is amazing and definitely took me by surprise. Again, the illustrations in this book were fabulous, the characters and story were both wonderful, and I actually enjoyed this book more than I did The Invention of Hugo Cabret.
I would definitely recommend this to anyone. Again, this is another Brian Selznick book that I will be shoving into the hands of my future kids.