When a book is this original, this heartfelt, this inspiring, this real, I find myself babbling in clich??: Wonder is truly wondrous.
Auggie Pullman is 10. He???s about to start fifth grade after being homeschooled, and he???s more than a little nervous: ???I know I???m not an ordinary ten-year-old kid. I mean, sure, I do ordinary things. ??? And I feel ordinary. Inside. But I know ordinary kids don???t make other ordinary kids run away screaming in playgrounds. I know ordinary kids don???t get stared at wherever they go.??? Born with a genetic facial deformity, Auggie has survived 27 operations since he was born. ???I won???t describe what I look like. Whatever you???re thinking, it???s probably worse.???
In a world where being even a little different can cause a lot of heartbreak, Auggie???s entry into a New York City private middle school is a shocker ??? for both him and everyone around him. Wonder follows Auggie through his public debut as he navigates beyond his comfort zone, finding new friends and allies, experiencing an independence he (nor his family) dreamed of, and learning who to trust and who to let go. [The NON-Wonder Award, by the way, unquestionably goes to a wealthy parent (who is vice president of the school board, no less) who Photoshops Auggie out of the class picture and even shares it with other parents!]
R.J. Palacio enhances Auggie???s story with multiple points of view ??? his friends, his sister, his sister???s new boyfriend, his sister???s ex-best friend even! ??? to create a richly detailed, utterly believable record of one extraordinary boy???s one unforgettable year. Note to parents: don???t read (or listen, as I did ??? so convincingly narrated by Diana Steele, Nick Podehl, and Kate Rudd) in crowded places, unless you???re okay with being an exhibitionist (pack Kleenex!).
The end during the principal's speech & the woods scene are two moments that I sat perfectly still for so I wouldn't miss a word.
The principal's speech.
Yes. I started listening with my children but couldnt wait for them. I listened without them and finished in 2 days. It's beautiful.
I bought the book for friends as well.
Mother, knitter, reader, lifelong learner, technical writer, former library assistant & hematologist.
This is a tough book for me to review as it's written for middle grade readers, and I graduated from that group long, long ago. It was so highly reviewed that I decided to read it. I think the 4 and 5 star reviews may be from people that like happy endings and can better imagine how this book will be received by the intended audience than I was able to.
Things I liked about Wonder:
*August is an engaging, original protagonist.
*Palacio's use of different points of view. August's sister, Via, had an amazing exploration of what it was like to be the non-sick, normal kid in the family. She hit on all the aspects, positive and negative, avoidable and unavoidable. I actually found Olivia to be the most interesting character.
*Palacio's whole exploration of "beauty is only skin deep" and "it's what's on the inside that counts" from many angles. Even after reading Wonder, I'm still not sure what my reaction to a person like August would be, or what the best response might be.
Things I didn't like about Wonder:
*I wish there had been more detailed medical information. The lack of detail is most likely because it's not something the intended audience needs or wants, but I think more information would have added to a better understanding of exactly what August had gone through during his ten years. There is a mention of his 27 surgeries, and that he suffers from Treacher-Collins syndrome combined with some rare mystery syndrome, but a bit more background would have added to exactly what a wonder he was.
*I wish there had been more development of Julian. He played a big part in the story, but was the least explored.
*I wish the ending had not been so "happily ever after". There were pat resolutions on all fronts and this is not how things would have worked out.
*I listened to this as an audiobook, and the voice of August was horrendous. I almost gave up in the first ten minutes because it was so bad. Another reviewer describes the voice as sounding like "a slightly retarded Marge Simpson" and I completely agree.
*The cover! Is it meant to be slightly disturbing without too much attention to detail? It's certainly not a depiction of August with one eye and the presence of ears! It may seem like a silly detail, but covers are important to me, and I think think this book deserved a far better cover.
Overall, 3 stars for a book that takes an overly simplistic approach (even for middle grade readers) to a very complex subject.
My only complaint: the cartoonish narration detracted from this otherwise sublime and poignant story. A wonderful book– one that everyone should read.
Loved the story
The narration almost made me stop listening! The whispery raspy voice the narrator used was VERY annoying!
Since taking my first creative writing class in 2008 the pleasure I used to get from reading has been greatly reduced. I notice things I never noticed before. That said, I think I rate books pretty generously. Anyone who actually manages to write a whole book and then get it published deserves an extra star.
I bought this book because of the great reviews. And it lived up to all of them.
Actually yes... That answer actually shocks me more than anything. I'm an avid reader and I am just now getting into audiobooks. I purchased this book on a bogo sale and I was definitely not disappointed. The narrators were amazing and I felt the characters truly come alive.
They all were amazing.
This book made me laugh, made me tear up and it made me angry. I was invested in the characters and I definitely loved the emotions in this book.
A must read for children and adults. A well-told story of a boy who looks very different and how he copes in a regular, public school… and how those around him cope as well. It will make you cry and fill your heart.
This is a novel about Auggie's first year in school - in 5th grade. He had always been home-schooled because of a disease at birth that resulted in a face that horrified many. Auggie gets into a private school, and his parents hope that this will be a safe environment, knowing how cruel children can be to someone who looks so different. Most of the novel is a first person narrative from Auggie's point of view, but some chapters were from the first person perspective of other characters. This novel is moving, funny, and above all else, believable. The adults and children are all portrayed so well - some likeable, some not, and many in that true-to-life gray area. In the years since my own children have grown up, I occasionally listen to juvenile fiction, searching for ones like those I so loved reading to my own kids. I have been invariably disappointed, wondering how books could receive such accolades. This novel was everything I expected, and more. This is so good, it could be read by a child, to a child, or just by an adult (like me). It avoids so many of the predictable plot twists seen so often in youth fiction. I can't say enough about this book.
inspired needed improvement
Augie's sister's friend who always loved him as a brother, and did one of the most selfless and influential things in the book, and something that spoke to me, when she gave up her leading roll on opening night to Vi.
I enjoyed having different performers for the different characters. I thought the performances were wonderful, and each added another layer of understanding to all the characters combined. I don't think I would have imagined Augie's voice the way it was performed, and it really helped me immediately think of him as different and be able to picture him better from the beginning.
Definitely, I laughed out loud a lot, gasped in shock, worry or suspense, and definitely cried! A lot!!
I think this book should be read by everyone, young and old. It reminds us of things we knew as little children but forgot, or perhaps never learned. I love how it teaches us to be kinder than is necessary. What a beautiful admonition.