Book Review: Wonder by R.J. Palacio


Rating: 5 / 5

August Pullman was born with an extremely rare genetic defect which has left his face disfigured.  Through the fourth-grade, he has been home schooled by his mom, but has agreed that fifth grade will be at a prep school a couple of blocks away.  While he considers himself normal, being a new kid in school with facial disfigurements comes with challenges and obstacles that Auggie isn’t sure he can handle.

Wonder was so incredibly written and moving that I’m not sure where to start in my gush-fest.  Being a new kid in school is stressful and daunting, and that’s for kids who physically blend in with others.  Auggie’s deformities are severe, and he has even spent a couple of years wearing an astronaut helmet in public.  Wonder documents Auggie’s life, and how he deals with the teasing, the taunts, as well as the gasps from people who see him for the first time. Wonder would have been amazing if it was only Auggie’s perspective, but Palacio takes the story several steps further by including other voices.  Wonder centers around Auggie’s disfigurement, but Auggie isn’t the only one impacted.  Palacio weaves in the perspectives and voices of those who are closets to Auggie: his sister Via, and new classmates Summer and Jack, to name a few.  While there were flashbacks and specific events narrated from each character’s point of view, each new voice moved the story forward, so it wasn’t a specific period of time told from nine different views.

On the one hand it is heartbreaking to see stereotypes and bullying played out in the fifth grade, but Wonder also shows a great deal of hope, humanity, and bravery.  It is simply awesome to see how Auggie changes and affects those around him and vice versa.  Wonder is marketed as a YA book which is great because is it a book that can profoundly change how children view themselves and others.  But Wonder is not only for young adults; this novel will speak to everyone and I cannot recommend it enough.

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