I won't describe what I look like. Whatever you're thinking, it's probably worse. August (Auggie) Pullman was born with a facial deformity that prevented him from going to a mainstream school—until now. He's about to start 5th 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? R. J. Palacio has written a spare, warm, uplifting story that will have readers laughing one minute and wiping away tears the next. With wonderfully realistic family interactions (flawed, but loving), lively school scenes, and short chapters, Wonder is accessible to readers of all levels.
Hardcover, 313 pages
Published February 14th 2012 by Random House Children's Books
Five Big Stars! A book that needs be shared with all the young readers in your life.
Have you ever wondered how you would view the world if you saw it from a severely disfigured face? How would you feel every time a stranger glanced at you and either looked shocked or quickly diverted their eyes? Would you face each day with courage, and hope for glimmers of kindness, or sequester yourself away from the world's prying, judgmental eyes? The book Wonder, presents a young man, August Pullman, ten years old, attending middle school for the first time in his life. Going to middle school can be compared to being thrown in an aquarium with a bunch of starving piranhas. Auggie, who was born with a genetic disease, which consequently caused his face to be horribly deformed, has been home-schooled up until this point. At first, when presented with the chance to go to school like a normal kid, he shies away, even though, all he wants is to be like every other kid. Reluctantly, he agrees and starts the adventure of his life time, middle school. With great courage, he navigates the often cruel world of pre adolescent kids. Along the way, he encounters prejudice, ridicule, and plenty of heartache. Take heart, there are also plenty of shining moments as well: friendships, growth, kindness, change and hope. How will Auggie learn to find his way in the halls of the middle school?
What I Liked:
- August Pullman is one of those literary characters who will stick with me for a long time to come. He is courageous, yet fragile; funny, yet sad. A little boy just trying to find his way, like any other, except he has a face that frightens everyone. I loved that Auggie was able to open my eyes and show me what it was like to see the world through his eyes. Granted, it certainly is not easy to be in his shoes, in fact often his tribulations had me blinking back tears, but in spite of it all, he manages to tug at my heart strings and make me see things differently. Yes, he is a sympathetic character, but he is so much more. The author doesn't want you to spend the whole book commiserating with Auggie and drowning in sorrow. Instead, she shows you the difficulties he encounters and makes you understand that people suffering from disfigurement want you to look beyond their scars and anomalies. Take time to peer into their soul and see the beauty shining inside. Of course, easier said than done. I mean think about it, how often in your life have you encountered someone who is deformed? Most of us are guilty of looking and then quickly shifting our eyes to something else, so we don't appear rude for staring, and then quickly sneaking another peek, undetected. How often do you look them straight in the eyes? Auggie is an excellent role model, he will make you laugh and cry, and most of all he will show you the extraordinary amount of courage it takes to be different.
- I was surprised going into this read, expecting a book that would tear my heart out, by being painful and heart wrenching, but it is filled with humor, as well. Auggie will make you laugh as he has plenty of funny things to say. Yes, numerous portions of the story brought tears to my eyes and one scene made me bawl, but it is an extraordinary read. Don't pass this up because you are afraid of the weighty subject matter. Ms. Palacio does an exceptional job in taking a tough topic and making it easier to navigate. This book is a surprisingly easy and entertaining read that will change you.
- This book opened my eyes to just how cruel, judgmental and prejudiced people can be. Of course, I haven't grown up with my head in the sand, but I was saddened by the nasty way some of the adults in the book handled Auggie. I hope that this novel finds its way on every library shelf and school shelf for young readers. Hopefully, we can all learn from this one small book and push to change public perceptions. In a culture inundated and obsessed with beauty, we fail to see how vicious it can be for those who look different to live in this perfection driven society. It is time to teach our young people that beauty radiates in each and everyone of us, and that we all deserve to be treated with kindness, no matter what we look like.
And The Not So Much:
- I have only one complaint for this book, and that is it employed six different points of view. I struggled a bit with the change of voices in the story, especially the first switch away from Auggie. Several times, the transition was a bit jarring, for instance, the narration suddenly reverts to Justin, the boyfriend of Auggie's sister. The reader was just introduced to Justin in the prior chapter and it was a hasty meeting. The shift in narration might be a bit difficult for younger readers. However, do not let this multiple view point style deter you. Once I settled into each new voice, I could see the purpose. Seeing things through a different pair of eyes, enriched the story. There were several examples of misunderstandings and miscommunications throughout the story. Viewing them from another angle was an eye opening experience. The various narrators ended up enhancing the story, in that they provided their own unique experiences. The reader is so wrapped up in Auggie's trials that they fail to see how others close to him suffer, as well. I am glad the author included these alternate voices.
Wonder is one of those books that comes along and gets into your head, speaks to your soul and ends up changing you. It will make you stop and reevaluate how you perceive others. Especially in this day in age where bullying is running rampant with the advent of social media. Take some time to get to know Auggie and those closest to him. Learn from their example and make a difference. Perhaps, if we all make an effort to be just a bit kinder, the world would be just a little brighter. I hope that you all will take time to read this phenomenal book and most importantly, share it with the young readers in your life. I applaud Ms. Palacio for her efforts to change public awareness on this difficult topic. Wonder will be one of those books that I will add to my life changing shelf, I hope you do, too.
“”But I know ordinary kids don’t make other ordinary kids run away screaming in playgrounds. I know ordinary kids don’t get stared at wherever they go.”
“Here’s what I think: the only reason I’m not ordinary is that no one else sees me that way.”
“I knew that people were nudging each other, watching me out of the corners of their eyes.”
“Why do I have to be so ugly, Mommy?” I whispered.
“No, baby, you’re not...” “I know I am.”
“She said soft words that I know were meant to help me, but words can’t change my face.”
“Every new class I had was like a new chance for kids to “not stare” at me.”
“Hey, the truth is, if a wookie started going to the school all of a sudden, I’d be curious, I’d probably stare a bit! And if I was walking with Jack or Summer, I’d probably whisper to them: “Hey there’s the wookie. And if the wookie caught me saying that, he’d know I wasn’t trying to be mean. I was jut pointing out the fact that he’s a wookie.”
“The things we do are the most important things of all. THey are more important than what we say or what we look like. The things we do outlast our mortality.”
“I wish every day could be Halloween. We could all wear masks all the time. Then we could walk around and get to know each other before we got to see what we looked like under the masks.”
“it’s funny how there’s a word like overprotective to describe some parents, but no word that means the opposite.”
“middle school is about as bad as it gets and then it gets better. everything’ll work out.”
“Such a simple thing, kindness. Such a simple thing. A nice word of encouragement given when needed. An act of friendship. A passing smile.”
“And if you do this, if you act just a little kinder than is necessary, someone else, somewhere, someday, may recognize in you, in every single one of you, the face of God.”
“Everyone in the world should get a standing ovation at least once in their lives, so if someone you love hasn’t gotten one yet, stand up and start cheering.”
A big thanks to Random House Publishing for providing me a copy in exchange for an honest review.