Friday, April 18, 2014

Wonder - RJ Palacio

Wonder - R.J. Palacio
Wonder by RJ Palacio
Publisher: Knopf
Publication Date: February 14, 2012
Source/Format: Borrowed from the library || Hardcover

August (Auggie) Pullman was born with a facial deformity that prevented him from going to a mainstream school—until now. He's about to start 5th grade at Beecher Prep, and if you've ever been the new kid then you know how hard that can be. The thing is Auggie's just an ordinary kid, with an extraordinary face. But can he convince his new classmates that he's just like them, despite appearances? (from Goodreads)

It is a wonderful thing to be surprised by a novel. That was my experience with Wonder, a middle grade novel I’ve been meaning to read for quite some time and finally got around to. The novel tells the story of August, a boy born with a misshapen face who is finally going to a real school for the first time in his fifth grade year. I was delighted, appalled, angry, sad, and hopeful in equal measures, a testament to the author’s ability to write her characters so that they leap off the page and come to life.

August has had a rough go of things, and has lived a mostly sheltered life with the family who loves him dearly. The challenge of attending a real school, where there are children his age that might not necessarily treat him nicely, is daunting. But August makes a brave choice to attend classes, and be among these people who act like he’s got the “Plague” (initially anyway).

Eventually, August is revealed to be smart, funny and kind – and perfectly normal, in spite of the way he looks. He accepts the way he is, learns to interact with others and basically, teaches all of us – his classmates and readers alike – that it’s not about how you look, it’s about how you act.

This, essentially, is what makes the novel excellent. Using not only August’s point of view, but that of the people who surround him – his sister Olivia, his sister’s boyfriend Justin, his friend Summer, his other friend Jack, his sister’s former best friend – Wonder takes readers on a journey that will break your heart, and put it back together again.

There are plenty of ways to react to someone who is different, ranging from kind to not-so-kind. And different perspectives are touched upon in the novel, embodied in a variety of characters. Wonder is about how each person, no matter what they look like, should be treated with respect, kindness and consideration. But what the novel showed me, in the end, was how our actions towards others have consequences and we can choose whether or not to act in a way that is good. It’s a simple life lesson, but an essential one, and Wonder tackles it beautifully.

Honestly, I’d recommend Wonder to just about anyone. It isn’t a long read, but it’s the kind of story that’ll punch you a little bit in the gut and make you reevaluate how you see and treat other people. With a main character that’s easy to root for, some great secondary characters and a pretty simple but awesome story, I’m sincerely glad I finally took the time to read Wonder.

6 comments:

  1. This was one of my top reads of 2012 and my husband is (finally!) reading it too! I'm glad you liked it so much. I feel like, if this book was taught in schools, there would be no more bullying...

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    1. Yes! I really think that this book gives a great view of what bullying can be like, and also, how to stand up for yourself if you're being bullied. Glad you liked it and that your hubby is reading it!

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  2. Oh this book. I want everyone to read this book so they know about it. Auggie makes my heart break and heal all at the same time.

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    1. "Auggie makes my heart break and heal all at the same time." I absolutely love how you put this, Ashley. It's so perfect and true!

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  3. This book is such a wonderful read. I wanted to reach in and give Auggie a big hug throughout the whole book. He's such a wonderful character. It's a book that hasn't left my heart since I read it a few months ago. I also wondered about it being taught in schools - I think it'd be a great addition to a classroom environment.

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    1. Yes! I constantly wanted to hug Auggie, but I also admired him for being so strong throughout it all. He's definitely a hopeful character that many readers could benefit from meeting.

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