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Overcoming Expectations versus Reality

By Kayla Aldrich, Read to Them Staff

Hello, all, and happy Wednesday! As a part of our read of Wendy Orr’s Nim’s Island, we thought it important to shed light on the notion of grappling with one’s expectations in the face of an imperfect reality:


We’ve all had moments in our lives when we’ve had something we’re looking forward to. Especially in light of COVID-19, it’s likely your plans have been derailed in some way; maybe you were planning a family vacation that’s been postponed or you were anticipating an end of the year school event. Learning to adjust has become commonplace, even if it isn’t much fun. You’re not alone, here— Nim endures the same thing.

Well into their email correspondence, Nim discovers Alex Rover is a far cry from the heroes in the books Alex writes. In fact, Nim’s thoughts turn down right nasty on page 83: “Alex Rover was not a hero. Alex Rover was a woman, and she wasn’t even brave.”

Let’s unpack this.

Alex is a writer, and she takes comfort in the safety of her flat. She likes that her company is made up of the characters of her own creation. With a fear of airplanes and the ocean that’s been instilled in Alex from the time she was very young, she finds her sense of adventure through reading and crafting fearless heroes.

Nim, though, believes Alex is a world traveler who has endless stores of courage. She also thinks Alex is a man. When she’s alone and hurt on the island, Nim draws from Alex’s bravery and is encouraged to be brave, too. In many ways, Nim uses her correspondence with Alex to fill the void of Jack being away; she becomes terribly upset when she discovers Alex isn’t who Nim believed her to be. It’s important to note that Alex never meant to withhold her true identity from Nim nor did Alex mean for Nim to be let down.

Sometimes, we end up holding unrealistic expectations of others, and even unrealistic expectations of ourselves. In situations like these, it’s important to look at the positives rather than focus on the negatives. One of the most beautiful elements about Nim is while Alex may not be a man or an adventurer, she is brave. She is kind, caring, and intelligent, too. Alex, with very little hesitation, puts her life on hold to come for Nim, because she sees Nim is hurt and alone on a remote island. Even though Alex may not fill out the blueprint of a hero housed in Nim’s mind, she’s pretty close. In fact, with time, Alex is likely to prove even better than Nim’s initial perception of her.

Moving forward, it’s important to have realistic expectations of others. We are all human and flawed, and by simply becoming aware of what you’re expecting and what you should expect is a great tool to learn. But don’t fret too much— while you may be looking forward to one version of reality, the version that meets you could be greater than anticipated.


I hope everyone has a lovely rest of your days, and that you’ll just us in wrapping up our read of Nim’s Island this Friday. If you want, share any thoughts on the post above on the Flipgrid page. Be on the lookout for our Friday Reconnect post!

Happy reading!

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