Wonder by R.J. Palacio

April 24, 2012 5 stars, Middle Grade, Read 2012, Realistic Fiction, Reviews, Young Adult 10

Book: Wonder by R.J. Palacio, Random House Children’s Books, published Feb. 14, 2012

Book Info: Middle Grade, Received from NetGalley, Available in HC 313 pages

Rating: 5 / 5 Stars

More Info: Goodreads | IndieBound | Amazon

I started reading Wonder on a whim over the weekend and couldn’t put it down. I’d heard good things about the book for months, and liked the book trailer, but for some reason I kept finding other books to read instead. Even though I do like middle grade books, the subject matter of this one gave me pause. Anyway, the story is so engaging and uplifting, much more so than I had expected.  Totally a worthwhile read and I’m so glad I finally read it.

10-year-old August Pullman was born with a severe facial abnormality. His parents home schooled him all of his life due to his frequent surgeries and medical appointments. Now, when others August’s age are starting middle school, his parents think the time may be right for August to attend school as well.  Auggie is a normal kid inside, smart and funny, and loves Star Wars and videogames. But will his new classmates be able to see past his outward appearance?

Auggie is so endearing- he won me over from the very first pages. I was so scared for him to start middle school. Middle school is terrifying under the best of circumstances! And even though Auggie has seen reactions of strangers around him all his life, it’s hard to prepare yourself for this age group. I, like Auggie, hoped for the best but steeled myself for the worst. His experience has highs and lows and focuses in on a handful of students and teachers and the different ways they interact with Auggie.

There are a few kids assigned to keep an eye out for Auggie at school to show him around. Auggie is very perceptive about others and is a good judge of character- he really is a brave little guy. It’s interesting to see the world through Auggie’s eyes and then later revisit the same scenes through the eyes of his friends when the book shifts to multiple POV.  I hadn’t expected the book to shift POV actually, but it does satisfy some curiosity by hearing other characters perspective. Two of Auggie’s classmates, as well as his sister, her friend, and boyfriend all take a turn at the narration. Auggie’s sister Via is a standout character, as she shares the effect her brother has had on her life.

Hearing the different reactions to Auggie made me think about who I would be in the scenario, and I’d react in middle school if I had a classmate like him. My daughter and I had a dialogue about it, and you always hope you’d be compassionate, but it’s hard to know what is the right way to respond in the moment. The book does a great job of making you think about how to treat people fairly and with compassion. The writing is accessible and has a light touch, even though there are some heavy and distressing scenes. It is just perfect for a middle grade audience, and to read aloud for class discussion or at home. But really I think this uplifting story is appealing for all ages.

Check out the book trailer:

10 Responses to “Wonder by R.J. Palacio”

  1. BermudaOnion

    I loved this book too! I think it would be wonderful for a classroom discussion. I hope I would have been compassionate as well, but who knows what I would have done 40 years ago.

  2. Candice

    I’ve seen this one for a while, but have never even considered reading it. I guess because I didn’t really know what it was about. This sounds like a great read, but also incredibly thought provoking. I’ll have to keep an eye out for it!

  3. Miss Anderson

    I’ve only heard good things about this book. I think it used to be on NetGalley and I didn’t read it then when I could have read it for free! But I think I’ll try it on my summer reading list, because it sounds amazing.

  4. VeganYANerds

    This was a beautiful review, Luce! I’ve heard such good things about Wonder and Auggie sounds like a fantastic character

  5. Stephanie (@poetrytoprose)

    Wonderful review, Lucy! This sounds like a powerful read and I’m definitely going to pick it up soon. My heart is already aching for Auggie, but I’m glad to hear it’s not all doom and gloom for him.