Wonder (book review)


Wonder was written by R. J. Palacio.  Since it's publication in the beginning of 2012 it seemed to me like EVERYONE was reading it.  Bloggers reviewed it, friends read it, it was floating around my niece and nephew's house (I'm not even sure which one read it... maybe it was both)... I feel like I saw it everywhere.  I kind of got it in my head that "Ugh, EVERYONE is reading that. I'm just NOT reading it."  Don't ask me what sense that makes... but that tends to be how it is with me.  If a book seems HUGE I just don't want to read it with everyone else.  I didn't even know what it was about.  I just avoided it.

This summer a new family moved in a couple houses down from us.  They have a 5th grade girl... and when she walks to the bus stop she almost always has a book in hand.  It's almost always a book I want to read, or have read (because, well... yes, I'm 40 years old and I like young adult/young reader books best).  And, of course, months ago she was reading Wonder.  (Again, "ugh, why?")

Then, a couple of weeks ago I was chatting with the neighbors.  Somehow we started talking books.  Somehow, the conversation ended with the 5th grader saying "oh, well you HAVE to read Wonder!" and with that, she handed me her copy of the book.

Description from Goodreads:

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

I almost hate to admit it... but I loved Wonder.  I loved Auggie (how could anyone not???).  I loved his sister Via.  I loved their family as a whole.  I loved Beecher Prep, and the teachers, and their classes.  And the book.  I can't say enough about how much I loved how R.J. Palacio told the story.  The brief "chapters" could have made it really choppy, but somehow that totally worked.  And, what really made the story awesome for me was when the point of view shifted to different characters.  The book began in Auggie's' voice, and you got a really clear understanding of how it was to be Auggie, and how he believed people thought of him.  But, just when I got a real grasp of Auggie's life... the book switched to Via's perspective, and I suddenly had a different story.  The same thing happened as each character got their turn in the story.   I love that in an e-mail from the middle school director there is even the line "there are almost always more than two sides to every story."  So, so, true.

I finished Wonder, and I wanted to immediately flip back through the pages to read parts again.  I now understand why EVERYONE was reading it.  I now think EVERYONE who hasn't read it should.  (I'm thinking I'll give it to Zoe before giving it back to our neighbors.)

I would hope it would help everyone to Choose Kind.