Wonderstruck doesn't have the storytelling breadth and historical scope as Selznick's earlier work, The Invention of Hugo Cabret. Still, his latest work is very notable and does stand on its own merits. If anything, some readers would find it more accessible as Selznick now chooses to focus on the subject of family and one's place in it.
The story in Wonderstruck is twofold. There's the tale of Ben Wilson, which is set in 1977 in Minnesota and is told in words. The other, that of Rose Kincaid, starts out 50 years before in New Jersey and is portrayed in pictures. Ben has always wondered about his father and has decided to trace him, despite the fact that he has recently turned deaf because of an accident. Rose is shown to be fascinated by a theater actress and decides to find her as well.
These two stories are eventually shown to be connected, and this connection would definitely surprise the reader. Yes, Ben and Rose are related to one another, but I won't tell you how! I don't want to spoil such a beautiful story and a very meaningful reading experience.
If The Invention of Hugo Cabret touched on the development of the art of film, Wonderstruck depicts how museums came to be. The reader can't help but be amazed at the multifaceted aspects that Selznick touches on in this book. Aside from his artistic skill, the author comes across as someone who has a deep appreciation for history and for getting his facts straight. Selznick's description of American Museum of Natural History in New York is fascinating. It's as if Wonderstruck has become the reader's admission ticket into this place of learning.
Of course, the main appeal of Wonderstruck still lies on Selznick's illustrations, which number around 460, appearing as spreads. I've shot some of my favorites below.
Dear reader, if you love The Invention of Hugo Cabret, then you'll probably enjoy Wonderstruck too (although I still think the former is still the better book). It's heartwarming, funny, suspenseful in some moments, and redeeming.
Read this book if:
- You love books with pictures.
- You've always been fascinated with museums.
- You know that the best stories are told in words and images.