by R.J. Palacio
" I won't describe what I look like. Whatever you're thinking, it's probably worse. August Pullman was born with a facial deformity that, up until now, has prevented him from going to a mainstream school. Starting 5th grade at Beecher Prep, he wants nothing more than to be treated as an ordinary kid-but his new classmates can't get past Auggie's extraordinary face. WONDER, now a New York Times bestseller, begins from Auggie's point of view, but soon switches to include his classmates, his sister, her boyfriend, and others. These perspectives converge in a portrait of one community's struggle with empathy, compassion, and acceptance. In a world where bullying among young people is an epidemic, this is a refreshing new narrative full of heart and hope. R.J. Palacio has called her debut novel "a meditation on kindness" -indeed, every reader will come away with a greater appreciation for the simple courage of friendship. Auggie is a hero to root for, a diamond in the rough who proves that you can't blend in when you were born to stand out."
This book should be read by absolutely everyone – students, teachers, people of all ages. It has such a good message, and it is told in such an uplifting way. The main character, August (Auggie) is a ten-year old boy who was born with a severe chromosomal defect that left him with serious facial deformities. Because of the many surgeries he has had to have over the years, he has never been to school before. When he is going into 5th grade (middle school for him), his parents decide it is time for him to go to school. This book is about his journey through the pitfalls of middle school – difficult for any child, but exponentially compounded by Auggie’s condition. I love Auggie’s voice in this book. He realizes what he looks like and understands when people stare or gasp or look away in horror, but it still hurts him.
“It's like people you see sometimes, and you can't imagine what it would be like to be that person, whether it's somebody in a wheelchair or somebody who can't talk. Only, I know that I'm that person to other people, maybe to every single person in that whole auditorium.
To me, though, I'm just me. An ordinary kid.” ~ August Pullman
It was significant that the author also told the story from the points of view of others who love Auggie. I especially appreciated hearing the thoughts and feelings of his sister, Via (short for Olivia), who loves her brother, but has had her life severely impacted by his condition. I also loved his protective and supportive parents and could feel their pain when the son they loved so much was bullied or humiliated.
Our middle school participates in the Rachel’s Challenge program, which was instituted by the father of Rachel Scott – the first person killed at Columbine High School. One of the fundamental principles of Rachel’s Challenge is to start a chain reaction of kindness. This book goes hand-in-hand with Rachel’s Challenge to treat everyone with respect and kindness.
“Courage. Kindness. Friendship. Character. These are the qualities that define us as human beings, and propel us, on occasion, to greatness.” ~ Mr. Tushman
I not only recommend this book, I strongly encourage everyone to read it – as a family, as a class, as an individual.
Publisher's Weekly - Ages 8-12
School Library Journal - Grades 4-7
*Mrs. Duke says - As I said in my review, this book should be read by everyone, regardless of age!*