Wonder by R. J. Palacio


by R. J. Palacio

Hardcover, 313 pg.
Knopf, 2012
Read Jan. 14-15, 2014

August “Auggie” Pullman is a great 10-year old kid, loves Star Wars, academically gifted, has a devoted dog, a nice older sister, very supportive parents, he’s friendly — big-hearted, really. After years of being homeschooled, he’s off to a private school for Middle School (when, btw, did Middle School start in 5th grade?). Oh, sure, one other thing: he has a genetic disorder resulting in severe facial abnormalities.

Kids being kids — this is clearly fraught with peril. It’d be tough for a kid to enter this atmosphere from his background no matter what — but in Auggie’s case, things are magnified. We follow Auggie through that rocky first year through various perspectives — his, his sister’s, his friends’, his sister’s boyfriend’s, and so on. I frequently get tired of this whole multiple perspective schtick, but Wonder is one of those cases where it works. By seeing the same event (occasionally, not every event) trough various eyes, we get a much better — and richer — picture of Auggie’s trials and triumphs.

Yeah, this is written for 4-8 grade reading level, and as such, not the most sophisticated writing or plot. Yeah, this has all the makings of an After-School Special (that’s a term that’s about to lose all meaning, isn’t it?). Yeah, the plot is pretty predictable. Fair enough. But R. J. Palacio pulled it off — it all works — all the kids seem real, the struggles his sister has are believable, the varied emotions (noble and not) are realistic. It’s a song sung well, no matter how old or simple it is.

Wonder‘s fun, occasionally funny, and heartwarming. Read it, and get your kids to read it, too.


5 Stars

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