Thursday, May 30, 2013

Wonder, by R.J. Palacio: A Review


Ah!  Finally!  A book that I can truly say is....fabulous.  You thought I was going to go with "wonderful" there didn't you?  No, too obvious.  But truly, this was not a book that I wanted to read at first.  I chose it because it had gotten such rave reviews and I wanted to be on top of things as a future librarian.  If you read the first lines, you can see why it doesn't sound like a blast:

"I won't describe what I look like. Whatever you're thinking, it's probably worse."

Auggie is a boy with a facial deformity that is quite extreme and he is going to be going to school for the first time in the 5th grade.  He has always been homeschooled, so school itself brings change.  Being the new kid is hard enough.  But being the new kid when other kids actively flinch when they first see you?  The beauty of the book is that we are taken inside the mind of Auggie, who has a great sense of humor.  So the book is surprisingly funny.  But some chapters are written from the point of view of other characters, which allow a variety of perspectives that really contribute powerfully to the story arc.  Auggie also has a wonderful family, which I appreciated.

I cried a lot.  I normally do not like books that make me cry.  I never choose sad books on purpose.  I have some friends that seem drawn to them like some sort of torture device.  But this books is not maudlin.  It doesn't wallow in pity or sadness.  There is sadness and hurt, yes, but there is also bravery and love and a sense of how wonderful people can be.  Dang, I just used the word "wonderful" after all. 

It's one of the best books I've read.  It deserves every award it's received.  Go read it today!

PS-- This New York Times reviewer loved it, too.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

The Joys of a Good Ending-- and the Pain of a Bad One

I haven't written in a while.  There are a few reasons for that.  First, I was finishing up a semester of graduate work.  I'm nearly halfway through my program!  Yay!

But mainly, it's because I try to only give positive book reviews on this site (that may change in the future) and the last FIVE young adult books I've read have not met the Positive Book Review Rating.  Nope.  For most of them, they did just fine until the ending.  Well, there was one book-- the first in a pretty big series (it's really upper MG)-- that I found to be quite bizarre and hard to follow from about mid-way, but for most of them, it was the ending that ruined it for me.  Then...nope.  No go.  No believability.  Or in one case, an absolutely horrible ending to a character that I did not feel was appropriate to foreshadowing throughout the book...and it wasn't like a cool twist.  It was more like a betrayal.  That was the end of the third book in a trilogy, too.  BIG FAT books, to boot. 

So, my next entry will be about a book I love, but it probably won't be about one I just finished.  I will have to reach back to one of my favorites, perhaps, or go find another book to read sometime in the next week to post about!  Just touching base so you don't think I've stopped reading!  NEVER!