Day 89: Wonder by R.J. Palacio
Summary From Goodreads:
I won’t describe what I look like. Whatever you’re thinking, it’s probably worse.
August (Auggie) Pullman was born with a facial deformity that prevented him from going to a mainstream school—until now. He’s about to start 5th grade at Beecher Prep, and if you’ve ever been the new kid then you know how hard that can be. The thing is Auggie’s just an ordinary kid, with an extraordinary face. But can he convince his new classmates that he’s just like them, despite appearances?
R. J. Palacio has written a spare, warm, uplifting story that will have readers laughing one minute and wiping away tears the next. With wonderfully realistic family interactions (flawed, but loving), lively school scenes, and short chapters, Wonder is accessible to readers of all levels.
I was lucky enough to get a copy of Wonder from the awesome people over at ARCycling and because of the amazing hype surrounding it I knew I had to read it right away. Oh and did I mention it is a SIGNED copy?! How awesome is that?! *does my happy dance* Oh I’m supposed to be reviewing it? Right so onto the review…
I really enjoyed Wonder. I hadn’t read a MG/kids book in ages and that by itself made the experience refreshing and new for me as it kicked me right out of my usual reading range. I thought that the writing was fantastic overall and I breezed through the book with ease. Even though the subject matter is serious in nature (accepting people for who they are on the inside, don’t judge by appearance, life as a kid with these issues, etc.) it was actually (likely by design) quite funny throughout. Oh, certainly there were serious scenes in it, but really it is a kids book and that gave it a lighter feel to it.
The issues I had with Wonder were pretty minor. I thought that the mom and dad were quite cookie-cutter in nature, the mom was overprotective and super devoted and caring while the dad was funny and supportive of his son but he pushes him more instead of coddling. Maybe it is just me but I thought that those two were left in those molds for the most part and I didn’t connect with them at all. Perhaps this is because the focus is on the kids, but it was still a minor weakness that is noticeable especially in contrast to the stellar younger characters, especially that of August. My other minor complaint is with the point of view switches. They come a bit too quickly, usually right after you are accustomed to reading from the new perspective and enjoying their voice you are shuffled to a different one. The August sections were very well done and I liked his sister and Summer as well, but I felt Jack was weak comparatively speaking. I never felt like his feelings were impactful or very important, it didn’t feel that genuine, to much like an add on.
The growth of August’s character and how he views the world is fantastic. He was one of the easiest MCs for me to connect with that I’ve read in quite a while even though I have almost nothing in common with him (well maybe a shared love for Star Wars). He was resilient despite all the teasing and looks he constantly receives and his sense of humor in the face of it is nothing short of courageous and remarkable. You can’t help but root for him.
However, what made Wonder stand out for me was actually the section from August’s sister, Olivia’s (Via) point of view. She brought up an interesting, if not overly surprising side to things, explaining how it is hard being the secondary kid and the struggles she had to go through at a very early age to adapt to having that knowledge. She would almost always come second, it was just the way things were for her. I felt bad for her and gave her immense credit for being able to bottle up those pent up emotions so well, even if it isn’t the healthiest course to take. She doesn’t even resent August, something I do find somewhat hard to believe, but is amazing nonetheless.
I definitely enjoyed Wonder overall and would recommend it to anyone. The flaws are minor and hardly even detract from the book. You will love watching August’s journey and learning about what it could be like for someone that has an outward appearance that doesn’t remotely match their inner self. It isn’t perfect, but it’s better that way and it definitely deserves all the accolades it has received. Thanks as always for reading and come back tomorrow for Day 90!
Goodreads 2013 Reading Challenge #89/365