Wonder – PJ Palacio
Pages: 313 (ARC)
Publisher: Bodley Head (RHCB)
Release Date: 1st March 2012
From Goodreads: I won’t describe what I look like. Whatever you’re thinking, it’s probably worse.
August (Auggie) Pullman was born with a facial deformity that prevented him from going to mainstream school – until now. He’s about to start 5th grade at Beecher Prep, and if you’ve ever been the new kid then you know how hard that can be. The thing is Auggie’s just an ordinary kid, with an extraordinary face. But can he convince his new classmates that he’s just like them, despite appearances?
RJ Palacio has written a spare, warm, uplifting story that will have readers laughing one minute and wiping away tears the next. With wonderfully realistic family interactions (flawed, but loving), lively school scenes, and short chapters, Wonder is accessible to readers of all levels.
I’ve been hearing spectacular things about Wonder since the first proofs went out months ago and they’ve just kept on coming. Now I completely understand the fuss.
August’s narration is very different to what I expected – there’s a grown-up element underneath his words, a wisdom beyond his ten years. The way he tells his story is warm, genuine and incredibly smart. I actually expected Wonder to be told entirely in Auggie’s voice so I was surprised when it turned out to be told in six parts; beginning and ending with Auggie. It was fascinating to see Auggie from other points of view after I’d got to know him, especially in the differences and similarities between those very close to him and those who had just met him. The way that Wonder started and ended with Auggie also showed me just how much he had grown and changed over his year at Beecher Prep and it brought big fat tears to my eyes thinking about how much better he will be having Summer, Jack and the rest of his friends on his side.
Wonder is one of those novels where you switch from tears to laughter to amazement at the characters in just a few lines. It is both heart-breaking and brilliantly funny, clever and simple. Auggie’s self-perception and innate grasp on what other people are thinking was brilliantly contrasted with the raw emotion from Via’s narration and the distant observation from Justin. The differences in how they all saw Auggie really interested me and I know that while reading I vowed to not stare or do the flicky-eye look away because of how it felt when it was done to Auggie.
As well as beautiful narration and many tears, Wonder held a firm modern hold on life as a ten-year-old boy. There were references to the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney, Auggie’s obsession with Star Wars and how it’s just not that cool once you get to middle school and Auggie completely understanding the feelings behind the famous image of Macaulay Culkin on the cover of Home Alone.
Wonder is a beautiful novel that should be required reading for both children and adults alike.
Thank you to RHCB for sending me a copy to review.