Wonder by RJ Palacio is the story of August – Auggie – Pullman, a boy born with craniofacial abnormalities that cause other kids (even those with the best of intentions) to do a double-take, squirm, ask “What happened to your face?”, or, even worse…ignore him. He has been dealing with this all his life, but behind the protective curtain of a supportive home-schooling family. But 5th grade is the year his parents believe is the year he should leave home and meet new people, learn by more capable adults, and, hopefully, grow up.
I enjoyed reading this easy-to-read Juvenile novel because it didn’t become the typical bully story. Yeah, you root for the kid with the deformity, but you also root for the kids who aren’t sure what to do with the kid with the deformity. You hope they’ll do the right thing, and some surprise you with how above-and-beyond they do just that. Others don’t surprise you by doing exactly the opposite.
It can’t be easy growing up like the fictional Auggie, or the thousands of real-life people who have physical deformities. Strangers stare, kids point, and you probably hate that physical aspect of yourself. Auggie describes why Halloween is his favorite holiday, and even when I felt my ugliest/fattest/nerdiest, I can say that I never, ever wanted not to be seen. How horrible for a child to think that about himself: For me, Halloween is the best holiday in the world…I get to wear a mask. I get to go around like every other kid with a mask and nobody thinks I look weird. Nobody takes a second look. Nobody notices me. Nobody knows me. p. 73
This next excerpt is the line that most melted my heart:
Everyone in the world should get a standing ovation at least once in their life because we all overcometh the world.
I will be happily recommending this book to young people who could use a boost, or young people who need to read a novel for school (and could perhaps use a little dose of reality/reminder that not everyone has a perfect life). I plan on nominating this for Loudoun County Public Library’s 1Book 1Community. I am on the committee to help choose this Fall’s 2012 title, and I think this fits the criteria beautifully.
(Random House made this YouTube video promo which does a pretty good job of setting up the story.)