17 08 2012

The tagline for R.J. Palacio’s Wonder is, “Don’t judge a book boy by its cover his face,” and that’s a pretty good way to introduce this beautifully written story about a young boy named Auggie.

Auggie is the narrator of his own story, at least for the first few chapters, and he starts out by letting you know that he isn’t a normal 5th grader.  Well… on the inside he is – he loves to play his Xbox, he loves Star Wars, and he’s figuring out the world around him, just like any 5th grade boy.  On the outside, however, Auggie is not so normal.  He’s got some problems.  He was born with some serious disfigurements of his face, and even after 30+ surgeries, the way he describes his face is simply to say, “whatever you’re imagining, it’s worse.”

Auggie’s never been to school before.  He’s always been home-schooled by his mom.  Now, though, he’s going to a regular school for the first time.  Being the new kid is tough no matter who you are, but imagine being the new kid when you’re face makes people run away screaming.  No, seriously, that’s the kind of thing Auggie deals with sometimes when he goes out in public, and now he’s got to survive a middle school.

This is, to put it very simply, an important book.  I firmly believe that every middle school student, all their parents, every single teacher, and all the social workers, counselors, principals, and assistant principals should read this one.  The things Auggie copes with, the people around him – the good and the bad (and you’ll be surprised by who – in the book’s own term – Chooses Kind) people that he is surrounded by – and the way he handles the cards he’s been dealt are truly inspirational.

One of the things that makes this book so unique is that about a quarter of the way through, the narrator changes.  Suddenly Auggie’s overprotective big sister, Via, who is dealing with some major issues of her own as she starts her first year of high school, is telling the story from her perspective.  Then it switches again, giving us the story from the point of view of a few of Auggie’s classmates, some of Via’s friends, jumping back to Auggie every so often.

This is a quick read, partly because the language is so fluid that you fly right through, but also because you can’t put it down.  Wonder has built up a lot of buzz over the last few months, with teachers all over the world starting “Choose Kind” campaigns at their schools and “The Wonder of Wonder” book clubs for kids and teachers from different schools/states/countries to discuss the book with one another online.  I haven’t seen this kind of hype for a kids book outside of Harry Potter and The Hunger Games – and while both of those are great books, this one is more.   Like I said, this book is important.

I’m on a mission.  I want to read 90 books over the 90 days of summer break.  Wonder was #75.  It was also the best one so far.  



One response

14 07 2013
skylar j

read it and loved it! i also read 4 other books so far this summer!!!! 🙂

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