Saturday, March 14, 2015
Book review: Wonder by R.J. Palacio
August was born with multiple malformations in his face and head that, while they don't affect his mind at all, do make him look, well, scary to other little kids, and disturbing to some adults too. He's always been homeschooled because he'd had so many surgeries in the past. But now, with fifth grade, his medical issues have stabilized to the point where he could go to school, and so he does. And it's not at all surprising that it doesn't always go well, particularly not at first before the other students get used to him. But he does make some friends, and while he learns some hard lessons, he also learns that he is strong and that hiding away from the world isn't always going to be the answer.
Chapters are told from multiple points of view, including Auggie's older sister, and his school friends. It's very interesting to see their sides of things (often the last scene will be retold from the new perspective), especially the sister who is fiercely protective but who feels very guilty about liking that at her new high school, she isn't known as the girl with the deformed brother. (That's the kids' phrasing, not mine.) I like that the resolutions aren't pat and how certain threads (kindness, for example) are hit multiple times throughout the story. I read the copy with the bonus of Julian's story (he's the bully) which does give an interesting background to what can make a bully act that way. It didn't quite ring true for how mean he was (just that he was pampered and had nightmares didn't really account for his behavior in my opinion.) But I liked
But the story is touching, tragic, hopeful, and a must-read for all kids who need to learn the value of being different and for standing up for oneself and one's friends. We all need to be taught how to empathize and put ourselves in someone else's shoes, which this book does masterfully well.
This review is a part of Kid Konnection, hosted by Booking Mama, a collection of children's book-related posts over the weekend.