I’ve never been able to decide whether I find this upsetting or pathetically funny.
As soon as you start throwing around words like “disabled,” “deformed,” or “diseased,” people freak out. After all, these are situations that many people can’t identify with or fully comprehend, so they’re not sure how to react.
This is something that Auggie Pullman knows all about. Okay, so maybe Auggie isn’t real. He’s a fictional character from R.J. Palacio’s Wonder. But he was meant to show the lives of people who are set apart physically by situations they had no control over. I read it a while ago and thought it was a beautiful, eye-opening story:
August Pullman just wants to blend in. He wants to be able to go out in public without drawing stares or play with other 10-year-olds rather than making them afraid. He may be a normal boy on the inside - he eats ice cream and loves Star Wars - but that’s not what most people see when they look at him.
Born with a severe facial abnormality, Auggie has been homeschooled his entire life. But now he’s entering 5th grade and it’s time for him to go to a public school and meet new people. How is he supposed to do that when nobody seems to want to sit next to a kid with a freaky face? How is he supposed to show them that he’s just a normal kid inside?
Told through the eyes of Auggie, his sister, and his friends, Wonder covers the wide range of emotions (good, bad, and just human) that come along with having something in your life that completely changes the way you approach the world, and how others approach you.
I usually don’t read middle grade fiction, but I made an exception for Wonder because I kept hearing that it was one of the better books out there. I was hesitant at first. The premise of the story made me assume that I was going to wind up wanting to yell at a fictional 5th grader for being a jerk. After all, that’s how many books featuring “special” characters go.
One character I enjoyed in particular was Summer. At first she befriends Auggie out of pity. Unlike some of the other kids in the school, the principal didn’t take her aside and ask her to make friends with him. She just decided to sit with him once because she figured that nobody wants to sit at a lunch table all alone. So she took her mac and cheese over at sat next to him in what was meant to be a one-lunch offer of sympathy. But she soon comes to a surprising conclusion: This Auggie kid is actually a really neat, fun person. She eats lunch with him every day from then on out, not because she feels sorry for him, but because she enjoys his company.
That’s where the mac and cheese portion of this post comes from. And the juice? Auggie has a hard time eating certain foods because his jaw isn’t set right, so juice is his go-to when he’s hungry.
Mac & Cheese
- 1 cup of raw cashews. Soak them for 4 to 7 hours in water, drain, then rinse. This releases the phytic acid that likes to hang out in nuts. You don't want phytic acid in your foods because it will bind to nutrients that you need, thus causing deficiencies. Not good.
- 1/4 cup of nutritional yeast. No, you cannot skip this ingredient. You can find it at many hippy organic stores....Oh. Right. I believe the correct term is "health food stores."
- 1 and 1/3 cups of water
- 1/3 cup of olive oil
- 1 teaspoon of garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- Your choice of pasta. I use rice pasta made by Tinkyada and they're the best gluten-free pasta I've found, so I'd recommend you go with them. Their trademark is a bit creepy, but more on that later.
1. Place all ingredients in the vitamix (I assume you can use a standard blender, though it may not come out as smooth). When I say "all ingredient," I am, of course, excluding the pasta. If you didn't know that, then I think it's safer for everyone if you stay out of the kitchen. Blend on high for about 1 minute, or until smooth.Viola! You now have vegan bechamel sauce. Does anyone else think that's a weird name? How can you have a vegan cream sauce? *shrugs*
3. Once the pasta is finished cooking, drain, rinse, and put back in the pot. Mix in some of your vegan bechamel sauce. You may need to add more salt. Stir, heat on low for a bit, then serve.
- 1/2 cup of cold water
- 1 orange, peeled and quartered
- 1 apple, cored and quartered
- 1 carrot, chopped into thirds.
- 2-inch slice of pineapple
- Handful of ice cubes
1. Place all ingredients in vitamix. Blend on high for about 45 seconds (or until smooth). This juice will be a bit thick, so if you want to strain it, feel free. I didn't because I like pulp.
Despite the counter intuitive term "Vegan mac & cheese," this stuff tastes really good. It's creamy and the apparently psycho bunnies are really good cooks because the pasta is perfect (okay, that was the last one). This meal is gluten-free, vegan, a complete protein, tastes good, and doesn't require a lot of time or a highly decorated michelin star chef to prepare. Doesn't get much better than that.
If you have yet to read Wonder, I recommend that you take some time to give it a look. It's a very sweet, eye-opening story that teaches empathy and helps show how to deal with hard situations that are difficult to fathom. It is, unfortunately, a bit fluffy and maybe the ending was a bit unrealistic, which is a bummer, but what do you expect from MG fiction? The message alone makes it worth the read, as do the incredible characters scattered throughout.
Have you read Wonder? Do you plan to? I'd love to hear your thoughts!
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