author : brian selznick [also wrote The Invention of Hugo Cabret]
pages : [hardcover] 640
memorable quote : Ben wished the world was organized by the Dewey decimal system. That way you’d be able to find whatever you were looking for.”
favorite character : rose
Ben and Rose secretly wish for better lives. Ben longs for his unknown father. Rose scrapbooks a famous silent actress. When Ben finds clues and Rose reads enticing news, the children independently run to New York for what they are missing. Ben’s story in words, Rose’s in pictures, come together in deafness.
I was absolutely fascinated by the idea that this story was told half in words, half pictures. I read and loved Hugo Cabret before, written by the same author, and loved how what was told in the text was visually represented. Wonderstruck is different because Ben’s story is told completely in words while Rose’s is only in pictures, so her tale is a little more difficult to piece together. The two narratives also take place in different times so it was awesome to see little historical bits about the 1970s and 1920s. It was also very fun to guess at why the two of them were chosen to tell the story and to try to figure out how they may be connected. While I kind of guessed the answer by the end, it still had a little surprise!
This book is very large but it’s such a quick read! If you have a few hours one afternoon you could easily get through this massive novel. I think younger readers might be daunted, at least until they see that most of the pages are taken up by pictures or large text. I breezed through this and though I needed to stop a few times to read my actual homework, this was much more fun to page through.
What I really liked about this novel, and think that there should be more of, was the fact that prominent characters are deaf. I can’t remember the last time I’ve read a novel with a deaf person in it. While I don’t know much about Deaf culture, I would love to learn sign language, so it was also very cool to see sign language in a few of the pictures throughout the novel.
Even though I was captivated by the concept of the story, loved that there was such a fascination with museums in the novel, and really enjoyed some pieces of the plot, this isn’t one of my favorite books. I’m not sure if I’ll read it again, now that the fun of it has worn off. I definitely think it’s the kind of story that some people might like better than I could. Ben and Rose seemed hard for me to relate to and so I wasn’t as drawn into their story as I should have been. While I wanted a happy ending, there was no real excitement in the story that had me craving more. It was simply a nice story.
I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a quick, interesting read. It isn’t a favorite but I’m still very glad that I read it.