Friday, November 1, 2013

Wonder by R. J. Palacio

genre: middle grade fiction

My mother in law read this book and that same day, drove to the bookstore and bought me a copy, telling me to read it.  When my nearly 11 year old son started listening to it outloud in school, he came home that day and read the entire rest of the book, coming to me and saying (a real quote), "Best.  Book.  Ever."

I finally picked it up that evening.

August isn't your ordinary 10 year old boy.  Despite the fact that he is witty, intelligent and a great friend, what you'll learn about him first is that he looks different.  Really different.  He has facial abnormalities that make his features disfigured to the point where sometimes little children cry when they see him.  That's a lot to take for anyone, but especially for a boy who is just entering middle school for the first time.

My son says it's the best book ever because, "It really takes the point of view of different people.  There are such good details, it's like you are in school listening to rumors fly about August.  It really makes me feel like I am living in that book.  It changes the people that are telling the story so you see situations from different points of view.  You change from a classmate to a sister to a good friend.  I think this book is about understanding differences and accepting them.  The author is trying to tell you that a lot of people judge people on the outside rather than on the inside."

Nice job, Xavier!  I agree with everything he said :)

For myself, I did like the plot and arc of the book - August and his peers don't change overnight and there are certainly misunderstandings and bad choices along the way.  One part caught me so completely by surprise that I actually cried drippy tears - our author does a good job of emotionally investing us in the story.  I didn't find it as completely life-changing as I'd imagined, maybe my expectations were just too high, but I did really enjoy getting to know August.  I believed that he really was a little boy inside a seriously malformed body.  I believed his feelings and his reactions - as well as the reactions of his peers and his family.  I think all the FEELINGS in this book are just right.  I think what didn't sit quite right with me was how perfectly tied up everything was at the end - but for the middle school crowd the book is written for, it did feel like a right enough ending.

I didn't completely love the point of view of the older sister. I understood it, for sure, but her relationship with the boyfriend and their story sometimes felt a bit out of place in the story being told.  I liked how it resolved but it still felt a bit off.

However, I did especially like the overall theme that KINDNESS MATTERS.  It matters when you give it, especially, but it also really, really matters when you receive it.  Any book that can get that idea across without being completely sappy or obnoxious is one I am happy to put in the hands of my children.

note: if you're interested in the content of the books I read, please go to

1 comment:

bermudaonion said...

I loved this book too and really liked that it showed that silence can be just as hurtful as mean words.

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