Wonder by R.J. Palacio
Published by Knopf in February 2012
Genres: Middle Grade, Contemporary
Buy: Amazon | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble
My name is August. 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?
R. J. Palacio has written a spare, warm, uplifting story that will have readers laughing one minute and wiping away tears the next. With wonderfully realistic family interactions (flawed, but loving), lively school scenes, and short chapters, Wonder is accessible to readers of all levels.
This is a middle grade novel, the main character Auggie is 10 years old, but I think this book can speak to you no matter your age.
Auggie, or August, was born with a facial deformity. He’s had several surgeries on his face, but he still looks far from all the other kids. You really feel for Auggie when you read his story and you feel bad for him when you see the way people jump, freeze, look away, or smile just a little big too widely when they look at him or talk to him. Auggie feels like the only one who doesn’t judge him, on any level, because of his face is his beloved dog. His relationship with the dog is heartbreaking. ;_;
The story isn’t only told from Auggie’s perspective though, which I wasn’t aware of before I started. I liked that, I especially appreciated his older sister’s POV because I understood her situation. Eventually we also get to see the POV of some of the friends Auggie makes, as well as his sister’s friend and boyfriend. I didn’t think the boyfriend’s POV added that much though, his was the only one I didn’t enjoy as much as the rest.
I also have the version of this book that includes “The Julian Chapter,” which I think is about 85 pages long and is written from Julian’s POV, Auggie’s main tormentor. I didn’t read this one yet, as it’s not a part of the original book, but I will eventually. I’m curious to see what he’s thinking and why he acts the way he does.
I see a common criticism about this novel is that it’s cheesy and a bit too uplifting considering the heavy subject matter. And yes, the ending is quite uplifting, but what you have to remember is that this is a middle grade novel and I don’t think they’re often written to be super depressing. They’re hopeful and encouraging, which is often the main difference between books for children and books for adults. I found the ending really sweet, it’s only one day in Auggie’s life after all, we don’t know if the rest of his life will be this uplifting (probably not, unfortunately). But at the end of the book he’s happy, which made me happy because he deserved it.
Overall I enjoyed this book a lot. I read it in one setting, as it’s very easy to read. It’s a very moving read, I recommend it to children, teens, and adults alike, especially if you’re a fan of contemporary books. If you’re prone to crying while you read you might want to pull out the kleenex.
Have you read Wonder? What are your thoughts on it?
What are your thoughts on happy endings in books for children?