Book Review: Wonder by R.J. Palacio

Posted May 12, 2012 by Lori in Books, Reviews / 2 Comments Tags: , , , , , , ,

WonderbyRJPalacio
Book Review: Wonder by R.J. PalacioWonder by R. J. Palacio
Series: Wonder #1
Published by Random House Children's Books on 2012-02-14
Genres: Coming of Age, Family, Friendship, Middle-Grade, Siblings, Social Issues
Pages: 416
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
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five-stars

You can't blend in when you were born to stand out.

My name is August. I won't describe what I look like. Whatever you're thinking, it's probably worse.

August Pullman wants to be an ordinary ten-year-old. He does ordinary things. He eats ice cream. He plays on his Xbox. He feels ordinary - inside.

But Auggie is far from ordinary. Ordinary kids don't make other ordinary kids run away screaming in playgrounds. Ordinary kids don't get stared at wherever they go.

Born with a terrible facial abnormality, Auggie has been home-schooled by his parents his whole life, in an attempt to protect him from the cruelty of the outside world. Now, for the first time, he's being sent to a real school - and he's dreading it. All he wants is to be accepted - but can he convince his new classmates that he's just like them, underneath it all?

Narrated by Auggie and the people around him whose lives he touches forever, Wonder is a funny, frank, astonishingly moving debut to read in one sitting, pass on to others, and remember long after the final page.

 

Wonder is beautiful. But in the end, August is not just like his classmates. He is better. Stronger, braver, smarter, and kinder. But he is teaching them and changing the way they think. And that is what’s most important about this book.

Wonder is about August. A normal ten-year old boy who was born with a facial deformity. He’s been homeschooled by his mom, mostly due to multiple surgeries and sick days that kept him from attending school regularly. But before he enters 5th grade, his parents think it might be time for him to attend school with other kids. August is fully aware of what this means. He’s noticed the way people behave around him, sees how they are afraid of him, and he understands that he looks different from everyone else. And he deals with it well, when he’s at home with his family and close friends. But he’s not sure he can handle being around kids that don’t know him, not sure he’s ready to face the real outside world.

Wonder is told from several different point of views. We mostly hear from August, who is a wonderful and honest narrator. We also get to hear from his family, friends, and some random people. I actually really enjoyed the differing views in this book because they all had different feels to them and offered thoughts that we wouldn’t have gotten from August alone. And they all felt real. My favorite POV may have even been Via, August’s sister. She was fantastic. Her love for Auggie was incredible, even when she knew things weren’t quite fair for her, she just wanted to protect and love her brother. I wish all books with multiple points of views were done as well as this one.

The best part of August’s story, out of everything he goes through during his first year in school, is his ability to teach the people around him what’s truly important. It doesn’t matter how popular you are, how much money your family has, who your friends are, or what classes you take, it matters how you treat people. It matters how nice you are. It matters what, and who, you stand up for. As August says, “The things we do outlast our mortality. The things we do are like monuments that people build to honor heroes after they’ve died. They’re like the pyramids that the Egyptians built to honor the pharaohs. Only instead of being made of stone, they’re made out of the memories people have of you.” How do you want people to remember you?

Wonder is a book that will make you think. It will make you think about how you treat people, how you view the world, and how you can be a little bit kinder to those around you. Wonder may not be entirely realistic, but it is heartfelt. And a wonderful coming-of-age middle grade book that everyone should read. I definitely recommend this book and give it 5 stars.

2 Responses to “Book Review: Wonder by R.J. Palacio”

  1. I loved this book, and so did my 9 year old. Everything you’ve written is right on the mark. I felt the chapter about Daisy the dog was heart-wrenching, but a tad more information in preceding chapters would have strengthened our sense of their connection and how that ultimately influenced the school field trip events. I second your recommendation for MG readers!

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