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Book Club

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Book Review: Wonder by R. J. Palacia

everyone in the world should get a standing ovation at least once in their life because we all overcometh the world’ – August Pullman

This book is technically YA however I felt it was slightly younger; perfect for that awkward in-between stage – not a child but not quite a teen. There is no sex or swearing but it is raw and gritty in an age appropriate way. My eldest (11 years old) devoured this book in just a few sittings and then demanded that me and the hubby read it too. Honestly, we all loved it equally!

Wonder is a thing of simplistic beauty, it will break your heart whilst warming it simultaneously.

The book tells the story of August starting middle school in diary form from his own personal point of view as well as from the view of people he encounters on this difficult year. Starting middle school is hard for anyone but especially so for August because he has been home schooled up until now due to an illness he was born with. Auggie has mandibulofacial dysostosis and a cleft palate, which required lots of surgeries and meant he was very sick as a young child, it also means he looks drastically different to everyone else. Other than his illness and his face not looking ‘normal’ August is an average 10-year-old, he loves Star Wars, playing the Xbox and his dog; he is desperate to fit in.

‘I know I’m not an ordinary ten-year-old. I mean, sure, I do ordinary things. I eat ice cream. I ride my bike. I play ball. I have an Xbox. Stuff like that makes me ordinary. I guess. And I feel ordinary. Inside. But I know ordinary kids don’t make other kids run away screaming in playgrounds. I know ordinary kids don’t get stared at wherever they go.’

I think what makes this little book so powerful is the total honesty you get from each character on their experience with August and with the transition in their life. August knows he is outwardly different but hates the fact he is treated differently. He knows kids are mean and most of the time they don’t intend to be horrible to him. This little boy is so full of compassion and empathy beyond his years yet is also so incredibly innocent it melts you. From the other characters points of view, they help build on your understanding of Auggie’s journey with the angst and difficulty with changing school, trying to make friends and losing friends; this book highlights that all kids are just kids and really school is a hard time. It also shows at times that adults don’t fully know how to deal with Auggie. My heart goes out to his parents; trying to protect him whilst preparing him for the real world.

One of my favourite characters is Violet, August’s big sister. Her love for her little bro is fierce and she is vehemently protective of him, she constantly feels in his shadow but does not begrudge him. On the flip side we have Julian, who is up there with Umbridge for literary villains. He is awful in every way possible and sadly 100% a product of his upbringing. There is an expansion book called Auggie and Me, not really worth it, I found it very weak but the Julian chapter really gives you an insight into how awful he is (I think you can get Wonder with this added chapter).

In the author’s note Palacio acknowledges how her child reacted badly to another child in front of an ice cream shop and how Palacio herself did not react in a kind way, but it is a reaction that most of us would be guilty of. This encounter is used in Jack’s chapters and is a perfect example of how honest the story is and how real the characters feel.

We love this story and I think it should be compulsive reading for all kids starting Secondary school; this book teaches kind in the bucket load. ‘When there is an option between being right or being kind, choose kind’ – always choose kind. 

Written by Amy from @kittyandpip 

To buy the book click here


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