As you read the reviews on Bookshop Talk, you'll notice that every review is positive. No, we're not a bunch of literary
pushovers who love everything we pick up; we just see no point in telling you about a book if we didn't like it.

February 7, 2013

WONDER R.J. Palacio, 2012

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 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? (Goodreads)

Reviewed by Julie, Children's Lit enthusiast and pop culture geek

R.J. Palacio’s novel WONDER narrates from multiple perspectives the experience of fifth-grader Auggie as he enters public school for the first time.  It would seem to be a commonplace story except for one thing: Auggie was born with severe facial deformities that frighten his classmates, making him fodder for bullies.

Compelling and believable in its rich detail, “Wonder” encourages readers to walk a mile in Auggie’s shoes.  Palacio sympathetically relays Auggie’s complex desire to be accepted for who he is, while allowing others to understand his condition fully.  In addition to Auggie, the novel is told from different perspectives, including that of Auggie’s protective sister, his sympathetic classmate, and his sometimes-friend.  These perspectives serve both as a narrative device to provide the reader with missing pieces of information and an exercise in examining different characters’ points of view.  Each voice unique, this narrative style adds so much more richness to the story.

Although “Wonder” is a lengthy novel that details many events in Auggie’s school year, I finished the story in about a day and a half.  I became unbelievably invested in his life, cheering him on during his victories and crying for him as he struggled against bullies.  I feel that the timely subject matter, the authenticity of Auggie’s voice, and themes of friendship and resilience make “Wonder” a potential award-winner.

Market:  Middle Grade Fiction
Language:  Mild
Sensuality:  None
Violence:  Mild
Mature Themes:  Bullying     


Anonymous said...

I just read this book, and I LOVED it! The multiple points of view were so terrific. I cried again and again while reading WONDER, both because it's a heart-wrenching story and also because it's a triumphant one. Great review, Julie!

Nicole said...

I loved this story! It was a great read for my daughter - about to head to middle school - who is a little different than others - but nothing compared to August. I hope it brings her inspiration in the dark days of middle school, where everyone thinks they are too different and don't belong. I also really liked that this book had an intact family, and though they were struggling along, like we all do, they really showed they loved one another!