The Publisher’s Weekly review of Kelly Milner Halls’ short story collection Girl Meets Boy: Because There are Two Sides to Every Story says “. . . it’s impossible to know everything someone is thinking and feeling—even when you are in a relationship together.” This got me to thinking about point of view in the books I’ve read recently, and how they’ve explored various perspectives.
Those multiple points of view were the real strength of Wonder by R.J. Palacio, which I chose as a Promising Bloom in November of last year. Now it seems everyone is talking about it—and for good reason! This is the story of August, who has a facial deformity and is starting school in fifth grade for the first time after being home-schooled. Readers get to view a nuanced situation from the eyes of several of the characters, which allow us to see August as more than an idealized character—as people with disabilities are often portrayed in fiction. It was in the eyes of his family and friends that he was able to be a complex character that we wanted to root for no matter what. Perhaps you can tell, I loved this book!
In Winter Town by Stephen Emond, we see childhood friends Evan and Lucy reunited after a year, only to find that they have grown apart. We read Evan’s point of view first, and we see Lucy as completely changed. Evan’s frustration and confusion come through clearly. But then we switch to Lucy’s side of the story in which we can see why she seems so drastically different. In addition, we also see Evan’s fantasy comic that parallels the drama taking place in their lives. This is a thoughtful story that may appeal to reluctant readers.
Wonder Show by Hannah Barnaby uses occasional secondary points of view to really bring the setting to life. First Portia is left at the McGreavey Home for Wayward Girls, which is a hopeless place. When tragedy strikes, Portia flees while she can. As a runaway, she finds herself in an even more unusual place: a circus sideshow. Interspersed between Portia’s narration are short passages from the various “freaks” that populate the sideshow—who are at first suspicious of Portia but who eventually become her allies. This is a fascinating historical novel that peeks into the secret world of 1930′s freak shows, with an unusual cast of supporting characters and a strong heroine at the center.
So, there you have it, three books that start with the letter “W.” I mean, that have multiple points of view. Well, whatever. Happy reading!
Girl Meets Boy: Because There are Two Sides to Every Story by Kelly Milner Halls. January 2012. 9781452102641. Gr 9-12
Winter Town by Stephen Emond. December 2011. 9780316133326. Gr 9-12.
Wonder by R.J. Palacio. February 2012. 9780375969027. Gr 3-6.
Wonder Show by Hannah Barnaby. March 2012. 9780547599809. Gr 8-12.