Wonder || R. J. Palacio || Middle Grade || 315 pages || Corgi Childrens || 4.42 on Goodreads
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?
I wouldn’t say there is a lot of hype about this book at the moment as much as there used to be, but this is definitely one of those books that people point out and say, ‘That book is amazing.’ I have not heard a single negative thing going into this book so, naturally, my expectations were high. I wasn’t left disappointed.
When I started it, I only managed to read the first 50 pages before sleep pulled me under. Still, just in those 50 pages, it struck me how well the author knows children. Adults too but the main focus was on children. Their behaviours. Their instincts. How impressionable they are. The children of the story felt so real because the author made us remember ‘Oh, yes. That’s how it was in 5th grade.’ I’m not saying everyone had the same experience of that time in their lives but I think it’s really easy to relate to at least one character or at least one event during the book.
The most obvious theme in this book is acceptance but for me personally, I found friendship to be a more important aspect which isn’t that different from acceptance. I find people in general underestimate the friendship of children. Because they rarely last when you age and move up to the school. Because children can be selfish. I think this book shows how powerful and heart-warming it can be. Not only when a person, like the main character of this book, is visibly different, but when a person is bullied or is socially isolated. This is really important and something that I think makes it such a popular book among children and older readers too.
I could go on about the beautiful things in this book but something that many of those things branch out of how clever the structure of the book is. Most of the chapters were from August’s POV but the fact that we had sections of Summer and Jack and Via (and the bonus chapter with Julian in some editions) gives the reader a really well rounded view that this is not just August’s journey. I guess, not only that, but the characters individually had their own little quirks, their own way of looking at life which was really fun to read because many of the events were told from more than one point of view.
This ‘low’ is basically just me being picky because I really struggled to find something for a long time. But after scanning through some of the book again, I did find something. During multiple points of view, there is this phrase ‘I don’t even know why I did that’ or a variation of that sentence. This doesn’t have to be a bad thing. At the beginning, I even liked it. But then it appeared again, and again, and again and the phrase lost its meaning. That’s the only thing that bugged me, and like I said, it’s me being picky.
- Summer – I really enjoyed how Summer thought and saw the world. She is very different from other children. In a place (such as a school) where the majority of the people think the same thing, it’s a really refreshing and and interesting point of view to read from. If I was in fifth grade, I’d want her as my friend.
- Via – I think I related to Via the most out of all the characters and not just because she is closer my age. I thought her emotions and her responses to situations were really raw and so human, I just wanted to give her lots of hugs. For me, I guess it’s also the bigger sister protectiveness that I related to as well.
- August – he reminded me of this boy that I saw on TV a couple of years ago. I guess it’s just the way he’s such a fresh POV to read from. The things he notices and how he deals with them definitely changed the way I look at things. Not to mention he’s got a fabulous sense of humor.
All in all, this book gets all the stars and more. From the author’s impeccable attention to detail to the characters I’m going to remember for a long long time.
RECOMMEND TO: Anyone and everyone! I’d say especially middle graders because that’s the books age range. Fans of The Curious Incident of the Dog in he Night-Time would also enjoy this read. Seriously, everyone!