Friday, February 7, 2014



by R.J. Palacio

Imagine a world where everyone accepted each other no matter what they believed in, looked like, or did.  That is a great fantasy world that unfortunately does not exists, in Middle School especially.  

Wonder is a great young adult novel about a little boy August.  August or Auggie as he is called was born with a syndrome that caused him to have significant face deformities and the absence of outer ears.  Most of his childhood has been spent having surgeries, being home-schooled, and getting used to the way people react to seeing him.  His mother thinks that he should start going to real school and off he goes with many reservations to start fifth grade.  The story tells his journey through his fifth grade year from several perspectives.  Auggie faces many heartaches and challenges but in the end comes out with many friends and loving school.

This book is easy to read and is written to me much like a 10 year old would talk.  The author does a fabulous job of putting emotion into the story and creating a main character that you want to root for.  You feel sad, proud, happy, and mad for Auggie all in one book.  Auggie is just like any other boy his age except for his face. He has a great sense of humor, is caring, and smart.  There is one part in the story when Auggie over hears Jack, whom he thinks is his friend talking bad about him to what to me can only be considered the class bully.   In this moment I can really feel how this must have been for Auggie and I can only think if this were me I would not have been able to come back to school.  He is a brave boy and this is very evident by his actions throughout the story.  The story gives a great message that you can not give up and let others opinions get you down.  Later in the story Jack confesses to just acting that way because he thought that was what they wanted to hear from him.  He caved to peer pressure but in the end embraces how he really feels and forgets about the peer pressure.   This is a great message for middle school students.  Many of them try to act like someone that they are not to be accepted or let others opinions change the way they feel about themselves.  This book can give them hope that they don't always have to do what the "in crowd" does.  You can find your own friends and stay true to yourself and if they are real friends they will love you no matter what and be able to see who you really are.

I also like how the story is told from not only his perspective, but also his sister and friends.  This gives you the insight of those around him and why they do the things they do.  I especially felt bad for his sister.  She loves her brother but also wants her family to pay attention to her sometimes and also feels bad when others always identify her as the girl with the deformed brother.  Although she does not have the deformity, she is always looked at differently as well and yearns for some normalcy or what we all call as normal for herself.

The one criticism I have about this book is how everybody changes in the end and everyone loves Auggie and the bad bully is no longer around.  Although this made for a great feel good ending, I do not think it is very realistic for children.  It does give children hope and gives the tone that everything can turn out great in the end, which is what we want children to strive for.  However, no matter what you do or who you are you are not ever going to get everyone to like you. No matter how nice you are and how hard you try you are not going to overcome everyone.  There will always be someone that will continue to dislike you for no reason or because of their own stubbornness.  But like I said that would not have made for such a good ending and I am on the fence about this because I can't imagine it ending any other way but I couldn't help but leaving the book thinking that would never happen.  Maybe that's just me and looking back on my own struggles with people but then again I need to remember its a story and needs a good plot.  

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