Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Two Books I Just Finished...

I have been reading a lot lately. when I have had a free minute I had my nose in my book and I have loved it! Just finished two wonderful books! The first one was The Orphan Train and the next was Wonder.

The Orphan Train
From Amazon:
Molly Ayer is close to “aging out” out of the foster care system. A community service position helping an elderly woman clean out her home is the only thing keeping Molly out of juvie and worse...
As she helps Vivian sort through her possessions and memories, Molly learns that she and Vivian aren’t as different as they seem to be. A young Irish immigrant orphaned in New York City, Vivian was put on a train to the Midwest with hundreds of other children whose destinies would be determined by luck and chance.
Molly discovers that she has the power to help Vivian find answers to mysteries that have haunted her for her entire life – answers that will ultimately free them both.
This is a great story about survival. It's amazing and heartbreaking what kids go through now and in the past and usually these  unthinkable acts and terrible words are inflicted on kids by adults that are to protect them. Molly is in survival mode while living with her foster parents. Both Molly, who is in today's foster system and Vivian, who was in the foster system in the 1920's, have similar stories and finally are accepted when they find each other. Its heartbreaking and heart warming at times. There was a scene in the book when Molly shows up on Vivian's doorstep and Vivian's reaction almost brought tears to my eyes...so non-judgmental, because she has been exactly where Molly has found herself.
From Amazon:
August Pullman was born with a facial difference that, up until now, has prevented him from going to a mainstream school. Starting 5th grade at Beecher Prep, he wants nothing more than to be treated as an ordinary kid—but his new classmates can’t get past Auggie’s extraordinary face.
The first line in the book:
I won't describe what I look like.
Whatever you're thinking, it's probably worse.
Auggie has decided that it is time for him to go to school with other kids. He has been unable to do so because of the number of surgeries that he was having, but he is now done with surgeries and wants and is able to go to middle school. As I remember, middle school was not "fun," trying to fit in and not stand out in any manner as well as wanting to be accepted by everyone while "groups" and "clicks" are being formed. Not only does Auggie run into these challenges, but he does so with a disfigured face. Disfigured, like "makes people say "AW!" and look away instantly and not want to look back." His classmates call him Zombie face, Freak and if you touch him, you get the Plague...kind of like the "stinky cheese touch" in Diary of a Wimpy Kid, just with a better name. Fortunately, a few kids do become friends with Auggie, but not without retaliation from others for being Auggie's friend...huh...middle school.
One day he overhears a friend of his talk bad about him and it breaks his heart. I can relate to that moment. When I was younger, I was EXTEMLY SHY. I didn't want to say the wrong thing so I wouldn't say anything unless I was with people I was comfortable with. Once I heard a friend say, "Katie would be so much better to hang out with if she wasn't such a b*tch and so stuck up." So my "quietness" was in fact thought of as b*tchyness and stuck up. All that work NOT to say the wrong thing actually back-fired on me!
I had a huge wake up call: People jump to conclusions without ever getting to know a person. And believe me, that wasn't the first time I heard people's "version" of me! 
The principal gives a speech at the end which includes a favorite quote from the book The Little White Bird:
Shall we make a new rule of life...always try to be kinder than necessary?"
I always tell the boys, that they don't have to be friends with someone, but they need to be kind to them. And always remember that the littlest gesture may be the biggest and kindest thing that may have happened to that person that day.
Auggie, who could easily played the victim and say, "I have it harder than you", accepted his face, people's reaction to it and in turn, treated them with kindness and acceptance.
Such an easy thing...a small gesture. A smile. A kind word...be kinder than necessary. Be accepting of others and their differences...inside and out.  Being kind when it isn't the "cool" thing in others eyes...if we all would be a little kinder to each other... 

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