Wednesday, 21 March 2012
Review: Wonder by R.J. Palacio
Publisher: Bodley Head
Released: March 1st, 2012
WONDER is the funny, sweet and incredibly moving story of Auggie Pullman. Born with a terrible facial abnormality, 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 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, underneath it all?
Wonder is a book that immediately lived up to its hype, and is one that I just couldn't put down. I'd been having a break from reading when I picked this one up; I was after something short but good that would get me back into things. Wonder was exactly the right choice: it's a brilliant read that left me feeling excited about books again. Needless to say I will be passing it on to everyone I know!
August Pullman, or Auggie to his friends and family, was born with a rare facial abnormality I can neither say nor spell. It required him to have numerous surgeries and reconstructions, and he had never been to school. Now he's ten years old and starting Beecher Prep middle school where he'll make friends, excel at his studies and come to the realisation that people are worth getting to know. His whole journey is one of bravery and courage, and the outcome is utterly heartwarming. I challenge you to read this book and not shed a tear... I don't think it can be done!
Wonder is told from several different points of view but mostly focuses on Auggie. In addition to his narration we also hear from his sister Via and her new friend Justin, as well as Auggie's new Beecher friends Summer and Jack Will. Palacio really gets into their heads and allows them to explain more about Auggie and his condition, and how it affects and changes them. This story would have been heartbreaking if Auggie along had told it, but by including others close to him it shows just how much his life has changed theirs, whether it be for good or bad.
Auggie is an extraordinary boy thrown into an ordinary situation: school. Everyone has problems when they're a teenager, but school is rarely as much of a struggle as it is for Auggie. Everything he goes through defines him and makes him stronger, and he is truly inspirational. So are his family, especially his parents, and his friends. I love them all for different reasons, whether it be their strength, compassion or unwavering love for this small boy with an unusual face.
Wonder really did surprise me. It was as good as its pre-publication hype and then some, and it introduced me to a medical condition I've rarely thought or known anything about until now. I hope this one is a huge hit in 2012 - it deserves to be. It's life-affirming stuff.