Tag: movie review Wonder

Two Book Reviews

Movie and book reviews are not a primary focus of this blog. But occasionally, I just have to share about a book or movie that I’ve recently enjoyed, and this is one of those times. I actually have two books that I’ve that I want to review this week – and I can strongly recommend them both for teenagers and adults.

In December I wrote a review of the movie Wonder. A few weeks later I finished listening to the Audible version of it. It too was well done. I can heartily recommend the movie or the book for most any age.  I’ve listened to two other, very different books recently, that I can also recommend, though for a more limited audience. I don’t think either of these would be as good for younger students, but I can see adults and older students enjoying them both.

Like Wonder, one of the main characters in each is a pre-teen child. And like Wonder, both books show the importance of family, though in vastly different ways. In Wonder, the family is “fairly typical” – dad, mom, two children, all living together in one place.  The main characters in One-in-a-Million Boy are divorced parents, their 11-year-old son, and Ona Vitkus, a 104-year-old woman he starts helping in order to earn a Boy Scout merit badge. After befriending the old woman he helps once a week, but before he has completed the requisite number of visits, the young boy dies suddenly of a rare, and previously undiagnosed, disease. His father takes over the task of visiting Ona, fully expecting that he will fulfill the unfinished visits, and then be done. Of course, it doesn’t end quite like he had expected.

I’m not generally a fan of stories that are non-linear – where they bounce from one period of time to another and back again – but the author of One-in-a-Million Boy pulls it off. The story goes back and forth from the present to various times in the past (usually different parts of Ona’s extensive past).  

As the story continues, we gain a real love for Ona and her young friend, whose life is different, short, and at the same time, beautiful. And along the way we gain more insight into his parents, the difficulties that led to their separation, and how their son and his relationship with Ona changes both their lives. It is an intense story, and like Wonder, I found myself crying at different times throughout, but it is also a beautiful story.

Just a few days ago I finished another amazing book that I also think should be enjoyed by adults and older students – News of the World by Paulette Jiles. This lovely book tells the story of Johanna, a 10-year-old girl who had been stolen from her family by Kiowa raiders, and the 70-year-old widower who accepts the difficult task of taking her through 400 miles of post-Civil War Texas to an aunt and uncle she doesn’t remember, in a culture she is no longer comfortable in. They are two lonely people who are thrown together in a difficult situation that neither of them caused and neither of them want. It was like going back in time to watch their lives change as they made the hazardous trip.

Neither book had anything truly inappropriate that I recall, but even though a main character in each of them is ten or eleven, I’m not sure I would listen to them with students that age, nor have them read them, though maybe that’s just me. But both are well worth the time for teens and adults alike.

I listened to the Audible versions of both these books and can say that the narrators in both cases did a wonderful job.  I’m sure reading both books would also be great, though I’m glad I had the experience of listening to them.

I would love to know what you think of them if you give either of them a try.

Happy listening and reading!


Movie Review Wonder

I don’t attend many movies in a theater – it’s generally cheaper and quieter to watch them at home. (And then I have the added benefit of being able to multitask!) The first eleven months of 2017 I saw four movies in a theater (three of them were historical fiction and one, I admit, was absolutely just for fun). But if all goes as planned, I may see four more during the month of December.

Wonder – A Wonderful Movie

Last week, three of my daughters and I went to see Wonder in a theater. I had known nothing about it, until someone in an on-line writer’s group I’m in mentioned it, almost in passing. Fortunately I then watched a trailer for it, so I knew to bring Kleenexes – lots of Kleenexes! Without giving too much away (because I hate those types of reviews) I will say it’s a movie I think almost anyone would enjoy seeing. And if there were more movies like this being made, I would probably take the time to see more of them!

Main Characters

The main characters are a 5th grader, his 9th grade sister, and their parents. The 5th grader has a rare genetic disease, Treacher Collins Syndrome, that has resulted in him having more than two dozen surgeries – to correct major facial deformities. As a result, he has been homeschooled through 4th grade and is about to attend “real” school for the first time.

Needless to say, some serious bullying goes on when he starts school (because of the deformities and the homeschooling).

So why do I like the movie so much?

  1. It portrays homeschooling in a positive way. The mother at one point says “I can’t homeschool him forever” which I might disagree with but the overarching message about homeschooling is still extremely positive.
  2. The importance of family and family values, as well as getting through family struggles, is shown throughout the movie – sometimes in surprising ways.
  3. There are no bedroom scenes and no bad language, which make it a rare, good movie for family watching (and adults who are happy to leave all that behind). One spoiler alert – the family pet dies during the movie – which was the only “sad” part for a friend of mine’s middle school daughter. (So if you have a young child who might be bothered by that, please don’t take them.)

And a warning – again – in case you didn’t take my “lots of Kleenex” comment seriously – I’m pretty sure I was crying within five minutes of the start of the movie – and I cried most of the way though it. But, as a Mom, that’s how these types of movies affect me. But it was still a wonderful movie! (Maybe that’s part of why it was such a good movie.)

Reasons you might not like it

  1. As I said before – there are no bedroom scenes and no bad language – if your movies need those to be complete – don’t bother. (There are two couples who kiss, that’s it.)
  2. If you have a problem with interracial couples, you won’t like this.
  3. If you are okay with bullies and parents who encourage bullying, same answer.

Ultimately, my crying notwithstanding, this a “feel good” type movie – once everything and everyone gets straightened out. But along the way, the author did a great job telling a compelling story and it was actually made into a good movie. I have it on good authority that the audio book version of Wonder is also good, but alas, I didn’t find time this last week to listen to it. Maybe one of these days!

So, in summary, if you’re looking for a good family-friendly movie, I strongly recommend Wonder. And I would love to hear what you think about it after you see it.

Happy viewing!


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