Wonder by R.J. Palacio
Review by SUSAN FRATANGELO
August (Auggie) Pullman has the perfect life. He has two loving and protective parents, a great sister Via and an adorable dog named Daisy. The only problem is that Auggie was born with severe facial abnormalities and has needed 27 surgeries in his 10 years.
He thinks he is the only person in the world who thinks he is ordinary. The problem is that ordinary people don’t get stared at, mocked and people don’t run from them. Auggie’s crutch was his astronaut’s helmet that he wore everywhere and has somehow got misplaced.
Mr. and Mrs. Pullman have decided to enroll Auggie into Beecher Prep for 5th grade after being homeschooled to advance his studies and make friends, but in actuality it is to face reality. Auggie is terrified at first knowing he will be “the only kid who looks like me.”
Mr. Tushman, the Director of Beecher Prep, engages nice kids Julian, Jack and Charlotte to give Auggie a preview of the school. He is befriended by a girl named Summer and Jack. The rest of the 5th grade are scared of him and just plain cruel. Every new class was like a chance for kids to “not stare.”
Halloween is the one day of the year where costumes level the playing field and is the great equalizer. Unfortunately, Auggie hears his friend Jack say some very unkind words when he doesn’t realize Auggie is in costume. After an overnight school trip, the tables turn and the social deck is shuffled.
Wonder is marketed as a children’s book, but it also a story that pre-teens to adults will enjoy. Everyone will probably recognize all the heartlessness of childhood. The book is written from the perspective of August, his classmates, his sister, and others. It is a story about overcoming adversity and not giving people power over you. And in the end what this book leaves us with in the infinite words of Mr. Tushman, is that wherever you are, whenever you can, try to act a little kinder than is necessary and the world will be a better place.
Wonder is available for checkout at Jefferson Carnegie Library.
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