Monday, March 25, 2013

Wonder by R.J. Palacio


August (Auggie) Pullman was born with a facial deformity that prevented him from going to a 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?

This insomniac's opinion?

Okay, so I don't usually review juvenile fiction, or any juvenile books for that matter. However, my Goodreads feed was blowing up with five star reviews from fellow readers and I decided to give it a try.

I do have to preface this review by saying that I am a pediatric nurse who has spent the majority of my career working with special needs kids. In fact, most of my favorite people on this planet happen to be special needs kiddos and their families, so I am biased in the most beautiful of ways. I could not separate my career and my life's experiences from my reading of this novel(of course, none of us can do that with any novel, can we?).

I absolutely, unequivocally adored this novel. It was simple and beautiful. Auggie's bravery and honesty was unforgettable. His family and their love took my breath away. I also loved that there was not a cliché ending - i.e the bully gets to know Auggie and suddenly becomes a completely different person and the two friends ride off into the sunset forever. Life doesn't really happen that way, does it? The bully, Julian, was written in a very real manner. He is one of those children who appear kind when adults are around and are nasty when left with only his peers. He is the worst type of bully, and few children's book authors are brave enough to write about a bully that is both aware of and enjoys the pain he is inflicting.

I really liked that the author does not divulge a description of Auggie's facial deformity until later in the book. By the time the author gave the details of Auggie's deformity I already loved the character so much that I didn't even know if I cared about the truth of his appearance.

There were also so many lines in this book that made me pause and read them again and again. Just a few:

"I wish every day could be Halloween. We could all wear masks all the time. Then we could walk around and get to know each other before we got to see what we looked like under the masks."
“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.”  
“Learning who you are is what you're here to do.”
Simple story. Simple truths. With a hell of a lot of heart. That's what Wonder is. 

Worth staying up all night to read?

You better believe it, my friends. Throw out your outdated ideas of what "adult" literature should be and mosey on over to the juvenile section if you don't mind a simple, beautiful story.


5 stars

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