R.J. Palacio worked for more than 20 years in publishing as an art director and book cover designer before she finally decided to “just go for it” and write her own book. What a shame that the world had to wait this long for such a profound, moving, heartfelt book like Wonder.
Wonder tells the story of Auggie Pullman, a 10 year old boy born with a multi-syllabic, nearly-impossible-to-pronounce facial deformity. Because of numerous surgical procedures and medical needs, as well as fear over being bullied or ostracized, his parents have kept him from attending public school. But at the beginning of 5th grade, they decide to enroll him at Beecher Prep, and now Auggie must overcome more staring, whispering, and ill-treatment than he’s ever experienced, and maybe teach his peers a few things in return.
I love Auggie’s family in this book. Mom, Dad, and sister Via are not perfect, and Palacio’s honest portrayal of a family that loves, argues, makes mistakes, and fights for each other is touching and relatable.
I also love that the book is told from several different perspectives, some of them unexpected. It not only brought me closer to each character, but helped me see Auggie’s situation – and how it affected those around him – in a much fuller landscape.
There were times I was brought to tears by the simple tenderness of Palacio’s writing, the gut-wrenching honesty and plainness of it. This is one time I was happy to have a print copy of the book (vs on my ereader), because it was easier for me to flip back through and re-read favorite passages, marking some as I went along.
You get the sense in Wonder that each of the characters – good, bad, or seemingly indifferent – are just doing the best they can. I often wondered while reading how I would react to being the mother, sister, friend of someone with such a severe deformity, or how I would react if it were me instead. There is so much raw, honest, human emotion in this book, it’s easy to put yourself in any of the characters’ shoes.
With Wonder, R.J. Palacio gives a master class on grace, compassion, tolerance, and love. It is what I consider a “redemptive” book, one that leaves you feeling changed and somehow better for having read it.
- Reading level: Ages 8 and up
- Hardcover: 320 pages
Here’s a great book trailer that gives you a glimspe inside Wonder:
*Disclosure: I received this reader’s copy as part of the Amazon Vine program. No compensation was received. All opinions expressed are honest and my own.
**Amazon affiliate links included.