Today we review Wonder by RJ Palacio, a poignant and uplifting tale about an ordinary boy, August, who looks anything but ordinary.
Wonder is one of those rare books that has the ability to strike a chord with children and adult readers alike. Is it any wonder then that the book received numerous national and international awards and was eventually made adapted into a film starring Julia Roberts?
The plot – Auggie Pullman was born with a severe facial difference and this prevented him from going to school like other ordinary children. Starting in the 5th Grade at Beecher Prep, Auggie sees school as a chance to live like any other 10-year-old. But whether or not his classmates and teachers will be able to see past his extraordinary face, is what forms the rest of the story.
What works – Though the story begins in Auggie’s voice, the book soon goes on to explore his story from other perspectives – that of his anxious parents and sister, his sister’s boyfriend and several others. Though this multiple voice technique can sometimes get confusing for readers, here the author makes it work. The narrative successfully captures the emotions of an entire community around Auggie and manages to convey how his extraordinariness touches the lives of those around him. CJ Palacio fearlessly conveys facts that we as a society are not always comfortable addressing. Yes, middle school can be difficult. Children can be cruel. Children that don’t fit into any clique either break down or turn into resilient people. The world isn’t always a kind place to live. How you look does affect the way people behave with you. But, the most unexpected people can surprise you in the most unexpected way.
What doesn’t – Everything works! The plot, narrative, characters, conflicts – all the different pieces fit in together like the pieces of a puzzle.
NFK loves – Our biggest takeaway from Wonder has to be how positive parenting can and does ultimately make for happy children. All through his struggle, Auggie has the unrelenting support of his parents. With words of confidence and compassion, they slowly teach Auggie to not only survive with his truth but also thrive and blossom inspite of it. Parents, tweens, and teens – this book is not only worth a read but should be a part of your book collection at home.
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