Book Review: Wonder

wonderIn light of the recent ups and downs, insides outs, and tummy-turning squelches in society these days (think: Boston bombing, Venezuelan riots, Texas explosions, a whole slew of mother nature revolutions and, dare I even mention Africa?) It was remarkably serendipitous to happen across one of the most up-lifting, real, humorous and human stories I have ever read. In fact, its name relates the exact sentiment I felt when I reluctantly flipped over the last page and slowly relished the final few words. I just didn’t want it to end—it was wonderful.

“Wonder” is the debut novel of former art director/graphic designer R.J. Palacio. It follows fifth grader Auggie Pullman as he enters the uncharted waters of middle-school for the first time. Although this is new grounds for most kids his age, Auggie’s situation is certainly nothing like most. Born with a cleft palate, no cheekbones, asymmetrical eyes, and other deformities that give his face a look akin to the “drippings on a candle”, he has spent his life going in and out of surgery (27 since the time he was born), beating the odds and surviving. He is smart, engaging, kind and brave but is also sheltered, young and frightened of human contact. It’s hard not to feel incredibly pulled into the worries and concerns that he perhaps is going “like a lamb to the slaughter”, yet at the same time widely cheer on his bravery and applaud his parent’s for giving him options and encouraging him to try the unthinkable. It’s the kind of story that made me sit on the couch and randomly reach out for my little ones and squeeze them so hard their poor little eyes begin to bulge. It made me burst into tears and laugh out loud. In fact, it made me want to purchase hundreds of copies, stand on a street corner and give them out to unsuspecting passerbys—I just think that a story as real and touching as this should be shared and re-shared over and over so we can all be reminded of the fragile vulnerability that humanity provides and how courage can turn that vulnerability into character and strength.

August’s story is told in first-person narrative also using the voices of family members and classmates. In so doing Palacio wisely expands the story beyond Auggie’s viewpoint and demonstrates that his arrival at school doesn’t test only him, it affects everyone in the community…and everyone grows as the story progresses leaving the reader with a firm resolve to be better.

Emily Moody is an avid reader who loves a wide range of literature  ranging from children’s picture books to adult epic fantasy and anything in between. She loves the outdoors and being active. Moody is a stay-at-home mother of three children.