Friday, 30 August 2013

Wonder by R.J. Palacio

17119852Age Group: Middle-Grade
Genre: Contemporary
Pub Date: Jan 2013
Publisher: Corgi Children's
August (or Auggie) Pullman is about to start his first year at middle-grade. However, unlike the rest of the kids starting middle-grade, this is going to be his first year at any school. The reason why? Auggie has a facial deformity, and enough medical conditions to fill an episode of House.

Auggie is a brilliant character; he is like any other 10 year old kid. He loves Star Wars, playing on his Xbox, and hanging out with his friends. It is his ordinariness in contrast with his illness which made the book so harrowing. Auggie knows exactly how people react to him, every gesture, every smile. He knows more medical words than me. So he created a bubble where he knows every person in his block to protect him from the world.

And school shattered that apart. Most of us have been to school. We know the story. The pain of fitting in, of finding your place. And we didn’t have Auggie’s face. But despite the stares and whispers, the cruel parents and school events, Auggie makes some friends. Wonder deals with the ordinary becoming extraordinary. Everyday events that you take for granted turns into torture for August, such as having school photos done or going to your sister’s play.

This book really highlighted that there are many types of people in the world. There are the good hearted ones, and then there are the ones who hate people for being different. But the world isn’t limited to that. There are people who are neutral, unsure, change sides and some who come out and surprise you. In a children’s book, you would expect a lot of black and white, but Palacio really highlighted the shades of grey.

Wonder is written from several points of view, which was important because it hits home the fact that Auggie isn’t the only person affected by his deformity. Via’s, Auggie’s sister, chapter highlighted this, as she struggled with her identity, and having to take care of herself, while defending and caring for Auggie. I thought all the characters were brilliant, and had their own unique view on life, which really contrasted against Auggie’s.

As a middle-grade book, the writing was fairly simple, yet there were enough variation to keep it interesting. The chapters are very short, and focuses on incidents, keeping you engaged. Then there were Mr Browne’s precepts, monthly ideas for his class to focus on, about kindness and truth, which really kept you focused on the theme of the story. As this book was for children, the book wasn’t as gritty as it could have been, but I don’t think that was the point. Wonder is about showing kindness, not shocking you with brutality.

This is a sad story, but it’s also happy, funny, thoughtful, and uplifting. And that rests in its sincerity. Nothing felt overdramatised, which would have been easy to do with a story which relies on children being cruel. I was taken on a journey of emotions with brilliant characters, and shown that the Wonder of people is not in how cruel they can be, but in how kind.

Overall: Just read it. Really, you won't regret it.

Rating: 10/10


  1. Yay! I agree with everything you said, i loved this book too and while the writing was simple, it didn't need to be anything but. :)
    Great review.

    1. Thanks! I think the term simple yet effective really applies here :)