I have to admit that when I first started listening, the narrator's interpretation of Augie's voice wa a little hard to get used to. But the narrator hit just the right note, because a kid with a severe facial deformity WOULD have trouble speaking. In retrospect, this was perfect because it gave me a hint of the feeling other characters have upon meeting Augie. His face makes people uncomfortable--to say the least.
I found this masterful book after reading a NY Times rave review. I work in the YA market, so I need to stay current with the best books. Although this is supposed to be a middle grade novel, I'm giving it out to many of my adult friends for Christmas.
The characters, each and every one, are so beautifully realized. You will root for Augie, this very funny, very cool, but very damaged kid. You will love the unlikely friends he makes and boo for his villainous enemies. You will love the way Augie wins people over.
Parents might be interested to know that, unlike many of today's popular middle grade and YA fiction, the parents in this book are caring, dedicated parents. They aren't drunk, they aren't on drugs, they aren't brain-dead. I loved how they struggle to do their best for both their teenage daughter as well as for Augie, who naturally soaks up most of the attention.
I have given this book to a fifth grader, who devoured it. I've given it to a junior in high school, who devoured it. I cannot wait until the next RJ Palacio book comes out.
Well, I have to admit, it's an easy one: you will fall in love with the main character, Augie, an extremely ugly duckling who will never turn into a swan. You love him for the strides he boldly takes in a world that idealizes beauty.
Having said that, I also fell in love with Augie's sister, his wise principal, and all the friends who love him from the start--and those who learn the true meaning of beauty at the end.
I laughed a lot in this book. Palacio "gets" fifth graders and teens. I never cried, but I do recall a few times when I had that smile on my face, the one that's just before you cry because you're happy.
Buy this book. Give it to your friends. Give it to your parents. Give it to your siblings. Give it to you mailman. This is a wonderful, wonderful book! It's about a fifth grader--but this is a book for every age.
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