Wonder by R J Palacio
|Wonder by R J Palacio|
|Category: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: Mary Esther Judy|
|Summary: Powerful and gentle, ‘Wonder’ is heart-breaking, life-affirming and full of warmth. This is a truly unique read about being yourself, regardless of the challenges life throws at you. A true gift of a book for everyone from age 10 through adult.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 320||Date: March 2012|
|Publisher: Bodley Head|
|External links: Author's website|
Shortlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Medal 2013
August Pullman was born with a rare genetic defect that has caused extreme facial disfiguration. He has undergone 27 surgeries since he was born and has always been vulnerable to illness. In order to deal with his medical needs and to shield him from the staring and cruelty of the world, Auggie has been home-schooled by his parents for his entire life. But Auggie is stronger now and all of that is about to change. Auggie is about to enter school for the first time – and he’s petrified. ‘Wonder’ is the story of Auggie’s first year at Beecher Prep and his first journey alone into the outside world. But can he confront the challenges that wait for him there and convince his classmates, new friends, family and himself that, underneath his unusual appearance, he is just the same as everybody else?
Palacio gives us a poignant and honest portrait. Auggie is genuine, tangible and written with amazing attention. He is never presented as a figure of pity, but one of respect and delight. His frankness and honesty about himself and the world around him is refreshing. While he is a young boy of incredible wisdom, it is the innocent wisdom of a child, full of certainty and hesitation at once. Auggie is a voice that speaks of the need to belong and to fit in. His story causes us to really reflect on how we are with each other; how we look at and treat other people and ourselves and why we act the way we do. We are never given a detailed physical description of Auggie’s face. That is left solely to the imagination of the reader. While Auggie’s facial deformities are the major cause of the conflict in the story, they become secondary to the reason for telling the story. It reveals much about not only strength and bravery, but vulnerability and acceptance.
…I won’t describe what I look like. Whatever you’re thinking, it’s probably worse.
‘Wonder’ is told not only through Auggie’s voice, but through numerous others as well. Through the voices of Via (his older sister) and his new friends the reader gets insight into the effect of Auggie’s condition on the people around him. Via particularly stands out as she reveals all sides of her character; her love for her little brother and desire to protect him, as well as the subtleties and complexities of finding her own place in life. Her struggles with relationships, friendships and family as she wades through her own emotions are particularly poignant. As Via uncovers much about herself, it is easy to relate with her internal dilemmas.
‘Wonder’ is not fast-paced, packed full of action or suspense. It is a gentle, totally mesmerising book written in a compelling, realistic style that invites the reader into the intimate daily life of this marvellous, genuine boy and his family and holds them there. It is a powerful story that gives us the world we live in with a clean set of eyes; one you will return to again and again, with voices that will stay with you for a very long time. It is also about being yourself, even if the odds are against you, because in the end, that’s all you can be. For ages 10 and up (through adult readers), ‘Wonder’ is a thoroughly wonderful gift and a book that you must read.
While 'Wonder' is an exceptionally unique read, there are a few others you might like to try, if you enjoyed this one. Try A Boy and a Bear in a Boat by Dave Shelton, Skellig by David Almond and Sylvie and the Songman by Tim Binding.
You can read more book reviews or buy Wonder by R J Palacio at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy Wonder by R J Palacio at Amazon.com.
Wonder by R J Palacio is in the The CILIP Carnegie Medal 2013.
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