Wednesday, November 14, 2012

"Wonder" by R.J. Palacio

313 pages

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

August (Auggie) Pullman was born with a facial deformity. Due to ongoing surgeries and his parents' desire to protect him, he's always been homeschooled and, for the most part, keeps to himself at home with his parents and protective older sister. But now he decides he's ready to try mainstream school, so he begins 5th grade at Beecher Prep. He knows going in that some kids will focus on his startling appearance, but he has no idea how difficult his adjustment will be.  Inside, Auggie feels like an ordinary kid, but his classmates don't necessarily see him that way. The rest of Auggie's fifth-grade story unfolds through his own eyes as well as those of his sister, her boyfriend, and Auggie's peers. 

This book totally broke my heart. Though it's fiction, it definitely reflects the experiences that some children have in real life, and it makes me sad that they have to live through things like this when they just want to play, learn, and socialize like normal. Still, this is ultimately an inspiring and uplifting story. In fact, my one complaint is that it's a little too rosy--I don't think the feel-good ending is very realistic--but in some ways I'm okay with it for this book since it is, after all, written for children. And, to be honest, I just like coming away from a story with a good feeling rather than a bad one. I think Palacio does a great job of creating each character's individual voice and showing how they grow throughout the book. I like that she included other perspectives as well as Auggie's to show how our lives all affect each other's. I loved so many of the secondary characters as well as Auggie, and their relationships feel real--loving but flawed. Overall, a very good story that I will be recommending to adults and teens as well as older elementary school kids and tweens. 

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