Wednesday, June 6, 2012

GUEST REVIEW: Wonder by R.J. Palacio

Genre:Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Coming Of Age
Publication.Date  February 14th 2012
Published By:  Random House Children's Books  | 
WebsiteR.J. Palacio

Wonder - Goodreads

Where to get:

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 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?

R. J. 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. (Goodreads)

“Because it's not enough to be kind. One should be kinder than needed.”
“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.”
“I think there should be a rule that everyone in the world should get a standing ovation at least once in their lives.”

Review by Jenn from Lost In A Great Book:

     As teachers, we are often observers in the lives our students. However much we want to have an impact on our students’ lives, it is their classmates and friends whom they will likely remember most from their school-age days. True, there are those special teachers who stand out, but they do so because they are truly exceptional in some way – good or bad – and therefore they rise above the friendships and rivalries of adolescence. 

     I was reminded of this position of observance while reading P.J. Palacio’s amazing novel, “Wonder”, and couldn’t help but put myself in the role of the teacher as I read Auggie’s heartbreakingly beautiful story. Told over the course of the school year and in multiple voices, “Wonder” tells us about Auggie, a boy entering Grade Five at his local public school for the first time. What sets Auggie apart from his peers is that he has been homeschooled due to a significant facial deformity; in truth, Auggie is not like the other kids in most visible ways. 

     What you soon learn, however, is that Auggie, his sister, his parents and his friends are unique for other reasons. Palacio’s beautiful language clearly captures the emotion felt by each character as they respond to the events in the novel. Auggie struggles to remain true to himself while trying to navigate the murky social seas of middle school. I felt for Auggie and his friend Jack as they encountered the minefield that characterizes male relationships, and appreciate the author’s use of messaging as a natural way for the boys to communicate. As Auggie’s constant friend, Summer attempts to share her determinedly positive outlook with others, while his sister Via tries to reconcile her love for her brother with her yearning to stand apart on her own. Even Via’s boyfriend has a voice in this beautiful narrative, and his thoughts are almost ee cummings-like in their sparse simplicity. I could so clearly picture these individuals in my mind, so much so that I felt that I knew them personally by the end of the book. 

     Life goes on in the novel, and Palacio provides the emotion and anxiety of middle and high school in her characters. The relationships within the book are honest and realistic, showing us that life isn’t easy no matter how brave a face we show to the world. Each voice is unique, but adds another layer to the story to provide us with a rich tapestry of narrative by the end. There is heartbreak along the way, as there is in life, and I shed real tears as I read this book. 

     “Wonder” truly lives up to its name; it is a wonder-filled book of promise and heartbreak, of growth and acceptance, and I encourage everyone to pick it up and enjoy it.

Jenn, thank you so much for sharing this absolutely fabulous, thoughtful and eloquent review with me and my readers! 

Guys, make sure to visit Jenn at her website: Lost In A Great Book! There's more awesomeness over there!

This review is posted as part of the Contemporary Fiction Month feature!

Click on the picture for full schedule.

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About the Author
Evie is the Blogger behind Bookish. She enjoys reading many different genres, especially YA, Paranormal, Contemporary Fiction and Fantasy.
She loves talking to authors and is always happy to welcome them for interviews, and guest posts. She also likes spreading the love for awesome books and  chatting with fellow book-worms.
You can find Evie here: Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Shelfari | The Library Thing


Gina @ My Precious said...

This is one of those books I just gotta get my hands on. It sounds awesome. I take care of kids at work who look abnormal but are totally normal kiddos. I know I'm going to enjoy seeing and reading about this from a whole new perspective. Children are so judgmental I can only imagine what this poor little man must have to endure. This one is available at my digital library. I hope to be able to read it sooner than later. Very nice review!

Randi said...

I am very much looking forward to reading this one. It really bothers me how mean and judgmental people can be, not just children but adults as well, and I'm really hoping that this might be one of those books to share with my future students to start a discussion about "difference" and understanding. Great review! Thank you for sharing with us, Jenn. :)

kimba88 said...

This book is on my list..awesome review!

tinkerbell the bipolar faerie said...

A very important story, I think.

Rebecca said...

This book sounds beautiful, I can't wait to grab myself a copy! This great review make's me want to read it even more :)

Amy said...

This is a wonderful review!! I haven't heard anything about this book until now, and I wonder why. It sounds like it's an amazing book that deserves a lot of recognition. said...

@Gina - It's a great read for you - such a wonderful story about looking beyond the first visual impression, and seeing the person beneath.

@Randi - It's so disheartening when kids make snap judgements that can crush another kid's spirit in an instant. They don't realize the power of words to change someone's life.

@kimba88 - thank you!

@tinkerbell - it is indeed - I hope you enjoy it.

@Rebecca - it's beautifully written, and a completely poignant story. So worth reading.

@Amy - Thank you!! It deserves all the kudos it's been getting.

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