Friday 17 February 2012

48. Wonder by RJ Palacio

Wonder by RJ Palacio
Published February 2012 Random House

From the publisher:
Wonder is the funny, sweet and incredibly moving story of Auggie Pullman. Born with a terrible facial deformity, this shy, bright ten-year-old has been home-schooled by his parents for his whole life, in an attempt to protect him from the stares and cruelty of the outside world. Now, for the first time, Auggie is being sent to a real school - and he's dreading it. The most poignant, moving and heartwarming tale you will read this year; a book to devour in one sitting and press urgently into the hands of your friends and family.

When I was told about this book by our rep, he raved about it, the publishers were saying that they had only had this kind of reaction to a book three times , once with The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, once with The Boy With the Striped Pyjamas and once with Before I Die.  With such a huge amount of hype I worry that the book might not live up to it.  I needn't have worried because this book was everything I was told it would be.  It's a big call to say this, as it's only February, but this might be my book of the year.

Auggie was born with a combination of syndromes which caused him to be born with severe facial abnormalities, the chances of that happening were 1 in 4 million.  He is 10 years old. He has had 27 surgeries. He loves Star Wars. He is funny and smart.  And he has never been to school.  Until now.

Auggie has the kind of face that shocks people, and he knows it.  It's how people react after the shock that is important.  Not everyone has the strength of character to look past his face.  For one year we follow Auggie through his time at school, the good and the bad. There are mean kids, nice kids and the in between ones that just act like he's not there.  Then there's some amazing teachers, most especially Mr Browne.

One of the best things about this book is that there are sections told by other characters.  As well as Auggie's story there are also sections written by Via (Auggie's sister), Jack (new friend from school), Summer (new friend from school), Justin (Via's boyfriend) and Miranda (Via's oldest friend). Via made me cry, she loves her brother so much and is fiercely protective, but we hear her honest voice talking about what it has been like, growing up as Auggie's sister.  Jack too, is just a 10 year old boy who genuinely likes Auggie, but he does something stupid that could ruin everything.  Summer is amazing, all she did was sit with him at lunch on the first day because she didn't want him to be alone, just a little kindness, that says so much about her.  The different voices are believable and honest and are a good way to see the same story through different eyes.

I can't do this book justice with my words.  It is a book about human kindness and strength of character, and it will make you cry.  To quote Mr Tushman, who is quoting JM Barrie from the book The Little White Bird..."Shall we make a new rule of life...always try to be a little kinder than is necessary?" I think I am a kind person, but this book makes me want to be  kinder than is necessary.

Who will like this book: Girls and boks age 10+
Read it if you like: Feak the Mighty by Rodman Philbrick or Stargirl by Jerry Spinnelli


  1. You have written a splendid review of Wonder. Like you I worried it would not live up to all the hype. Many of your thoughts were mine too

    I am in awe of you blogging like this every day. I hoped to blog 15 per month this year but am not even close.

    Congratulations on your terrific blog .

  2. Thank you so much for your comments.
    Blogging every day is a challenge, but I love it, and I am just lucky that there are so many good books to choose from.

  3. I loved this too. When my 12 year old stepson read this he also couldn't stop raving about it. Book of the Year sounds about right to me :-)