Monday, January 9, 2012
Wonderstruck is a new novel by Brian Selznick.
Ben and Rose both feel lost.
Ben, in 1977, has only recently lost his mother. Then when tragedy strikes again in his life, he finds himself yearning to find the father he’s never known – desperately unraveling small clues to try and find him.
Rose, in 1927, spends her time scrapbooking pictures and articles about a beautiful, mysterious actress. She rejects the teacher that arrives at her house to teach her lessons – his lessons are too hard for her to accept. So, when she reads a certain headline in the newspaper she sets out to find a piece of her life she’s missing.
Ben’s story is told all in words, like a traditional novel, whereas Rose’s story is told in pictures only – almost like a silent movie. Both of these children are setting off alone in a world that doesn’t seem to have room to fit them and despite being fifty years apart, their stories mirror and complement each other in striking ways.
Brian Selznick is, of course, the author of The Invention of Hugo Cabret in which he told a story in words and pictures. This time he uses that idea in a different way, and manages to create yet another unique method of weaving a tale. He has 460 pages of original artwork – can you imagine how long that took?
Again he is more that successful at providing a poignant, beautiful, grandiose novel that crosses age limits and genre preferences. Wonderstruck is a powerful gem that has an astonishing amount of surprises and twists! I am so tempted to say a little bit about what’s going on with Ben and Rose, but to spoil the stream of revelations and quiet, careful, charming way Selznick presents them would be terrible.
Wonderstuck causes a roll of adjectives: touching, stunning, subtle, understated, deeply moving, and very effective. It’s hard not to be captivated by the intricate, delicate ways in which Selznick begins to interlace the two children together through gorgeous illustrations and lyrical prose. The merging of their individual stories is a wonder.
Anybody who has read The Invention of Hugo Cabret will already want to read Wonderstruck, I’m sure. I was in that boat! If you haven’t though, this is a fantastic way to start! I cannot stress how lovely and special Wonderstuck is – it’s a cinematic experience in book form.
And I hope for many more from Brian Selznick!!!