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.

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