Monday, March 12, 2012

Wonder by RJ Palacio

Auggie was born with a severe cranial abormality. He's not going to describe it, because whatever you're thinking, it's probably not as bad as it really is. He's spent his entire life in and out of hospitals, ducking the stares and reactions of the general public. He's always been homeschooled by his mother, but now he has a chance to attend a private school that will help him develop as a student. Auggie reluctantly agrees to attend, setting in motion a course of events that will change not only his life but also the lives of his sister and his classmates.

As Wonder tells not only Auggie's story, it makes perfect sense that it's not only told in his voice. His sister, his classmates, and even his sister's boyfriend and ex-best-friend each get a chance narrating the story, although it does begin and end with Auggie. The narrative caught me because I was so willing to believe one interpretation of events, but it continually reminded me that there are multiple points of view and it's often difficult to know another person's motivation and the road that lead to their actions. (Although, having said that, the plot point of parents photoshopping Auggie out of the class picture is a reminder that children don't have a monopoly on childish, cruel behaviour.) I had to spend some time thinking about the ending of the book. When I first read it, I thought it was a bit too unlikely, a bit too neat (if a book with these characters and these storylines could ever be considered neat). But after thinking about it, I think it strikes a good balance between accurately reflecting something that would happen in the real world versus being too much or unearned. And ultimately, I think the fact that I wanted to think about the book meant that it made a big impression on me; I didn't just toss it aside after reading it because it stayed with me. This book has been getting major press and attention, and it's great to see mainstream media talking about books for young readers. Grab a copy for yourself to see what everyone's talking about.

Check out R.J. Palacio's website.

I read an advance review copy from NetGalley courtesy of Random House/Alfred A. Knopf.

Find it at IndieBound. 

Read it with:
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney
Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper

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