Fri 7 Feb 2014
By RJ Palacio
Review By: Carmella Battoglia
Palacio’s Wonder is a gem of a novel. Its protagonist, August Pullman (Auggie) is a ten year old boy born with craniofacial abnormalities. It is his story of transitioning from home to school in the fifth grade. But, it is so much more than that! It is a story that accurately portrays the lives of kids who have ever felt different. It is the story of the pressures of fitting in at school; the difficulties of parents being able to let go; the mixed emotions of being a sibling of a boy who requires so much attention. And above all else, it is the story of triumph and kindness. Wonder will make you laugh, cry and cheer out loud!
The beauty of the novel is that it is it is narrated by six different characters. You not only get inside Auggie’s head, but those that matter to him most. And don’t be fooled by the young protagonist. This is a book for everyone – children and adults alike. Auggie’s narration will have young readers rooting for him from the start. He’s smart, funny and in many ways an average 10 year old boy. School aged children, will recognize the dilemma’s Auggie faces. Mainly, the social pressures of having friends based on the way you look. Jack, Auggie’s friend, admits he didn’t want to be friends with Auggie because he is “deformed”. But, when given a chance, Jack sees beyond Auggie’s face into his big kind heart.
Kindness is the underlying them through this novel. Each month Auggie’s English teacher writes a precept by someone famous on the board at the beginning of each month. Although these precepts are meant to have the characters identify with and learn from them, the readers do as well. The first one is by Dr. Wayne D Dyer, “When given the choice between being right or being kind, choose kind”. “Choosing kind” runs throughout the novel. It is not the easiest choice to make, but the characters that really matter in this novel, pull through and choose it.
Of course, not everyone is kind in the novel. We go through Auggie’s entire school year with him. We feel each heartache with him. We overcome each hardship with him. We are inspired by him. Auggie wants to quit school after Halloween because he overhears his closest friend making fun of him. But, he doesn’t. He trudges on. When the whole school starts a “war” against him, he doesn’t tattle or give up. He trudges on. When he has to face parents at public speaking events, he wants to hide, but he doesn’t. He trudges on. We see Auggie struggle with being different in each case. Auggie shows readers that kids get it. He understands the strange stares, fake smiles and even sarcastic remarks from adults and his peers. But, he tries to see passed them and just fit in. Auggie’s resilience will make you want to jump into the book and be his friend.
Reading Wonder will forever change the way you view anything and anyone different. RJ Palacio tackles a heavy subject with tremendous heart and humor. I highly recommend this book for anyone looking for a little inspiration in their lives