Wonder by R.J. Palacio

wonderbanner.jpg“I’m just me. An ordinary kid.
But hey, if they want to give me a medal for being me, that’s okay. I’ll take it.
I didn’t destroy a Deathstar or anything like that, but I did just get through the fifth grade.
And that’s not easy, even if you’re not me.”

 
Deviating quite a bit from the heavy, serious fare I’ve been devouring lately, this melt-your-heart sweet and touching novel was just what I needed to lighten up an otherwise blue week. It’s an endearing, lighthearted read that had me in stitches as often as in tears.

August Pullman is, in his own words, just an ordinary kid. He loves Star Wars, science, his dog Daisy and lives with his older sister Via, his mom, and dad. And this year he will be starting middle school. All of which is perfectly ordinary, only Auggie has not been dealt the kindest hand. He was born with severe facial abnormalities and, at ten years old, he has become accustomed to curious stares and often rude comments. Navigating middle school will be as much a challenge as a new adventure.

I adored the characters in this book. It’s a quick read with short chapters, easy to breeze through on a lazy afternoon. We get to experience Auggie’s story through various perspectives, each distinct and wonderfully written. I usually balk at kid narrators, but Palacio’s cast is so relatable and compelling, it’s impossible not to be enchanted. From kind-hearted Summer, best friend Jack Will, unfortunately named but encouraging Principal Tushman, to class bully Julian – each character’s life is touched and changed by the courageous Auggie. I admired the spirit with which Auggie tackles whatever comes his way – he is often humorous, always honest. There are lessons to be learned, perceptions to be challenged and Auggie himself finds that while encountering jerks is inevitable, kindness and respect always win out in the end.

I think this is one of those books that everyone needs to read at least once. It’s told with heart-warming empathy and sincerity, with the importance of friendship, family and compassion at its centre. I dare you to read this and not feel uplifted and inspired by Auggie’s story. He truly is an unforgettable, extraordinary middle schooler.

Recommended if you’re in the mood for a brave, feel-good read that will change your every perspective. Remember to keep those tissues handy.

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