Thursday, March 8, 2012
Wonder by R. J. Palacio
Wonder by R. J. Palacio (Knopf, 2012)
Summary from publisher:
August (Auggie) Pullman was born with a facial deformity that prevented himn from going to a mainstream school -- until now. He's about to enter fifth 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?
This book got some serious buzz right around the time it came out early in February. It seemed like everyone I knew on Twitter had read it and was raving about it. Though I didn't have an ARC of this one, I did pre-order a copy. It arrived on Tuesday, I began reading it on Thursday, and read right on through until I was finished on Friday. I even switched around my lesson plans on Friday so that I would have more time to read. I fell in love with Auggie, and honestly many parts of his story absolutely broke my heart.
This book is told in several different voices, so the reader gets different perspectives on the same events, which I found to be very interesting. I especially liked the contrast between Auggie's version of events and that of another boy in his class, Jack. Hearing these different voices added a richness to the story that would have been lacking had the author only written from Auggie's perspective.
In many ways, this book reminded me of Out Of My Mind by Sharon Draper. Both books take a child with a disability of disfigurement and blow away the stereotypes associated with them. Both stories are heartfelt and touching without being syrupy sweet or too happy-happy-joy-joy. Both stories seem real.
After I finished Wonder, I handed it off to my fifth grade daughter. I asked her to let me know what she thought of the book. After she'd been reading for just a while, she looked at me and said, "Mom, I'm going to love this book." And love it she did. I honestly wondered if I was going to get my copy back from her!
Even though the main characters in this book are fifth graders, this book will definitely appeal to older readers, too. In fact, older readers will probably appreciate it more. It's an amazing story well told.