Thursday, March 10, 2016
I finished reading this little gem today and love, love, loved it! Wonder, R. J. Palacio's first novel, has quickly become a favorite of anyone I've talked to who has read it, adults and children alike.
Auggie Pullman is a 5th grader who is starting private school after years of being home schooled. He's not worried about keeping up academically, but he is worried about finding friends. Not an unusual concern for someone about to become the new kid, but he's only navigated a few friendships in his short life, not because he lacks the opportunity or social skills, but because his face is deformed and other children are reluctant to come near him.
Auggie is used to stares, whispers, shock, tight smiles, and even screams, but experiencing that all day, every day will be an adjustment he's not sure he wants to make.
Palacio tells the story of Auggie's 5th grade year not only through Auggie's eyes, but through the eyes of those who love him - his sister, Olivia and her friends Justin and Miranda, and his friends Jack and Summer. August and Olivia give the reader clear insight into their parents' view, but all of the voices telling the story are the voices of children and teenagers who understand the social ramifications each of the others face when they commit to becoming part of Team Auggie.
I shed more than a few tears and laughed out loud several time as the kids told their stories. There are characters who are redeemed and those whose pride doesn't allow redemption. Readers will enjoy meeting the frenemies, the love-blind parents, the long-suffering, invisible sister, and watching the transformation of the student body at Beecher Prep as they learn that the old saying is true - what matters is what is on the inside.
For those who want more Auggie, there is a companion to this novel titled Auggie & Me: Three Wonder Stories, which is waiting for me at my local library.