Book Banter: Wonder

WonderTitle: Wonder
Author: R.J. Palacio
Genre: YA fiction
Length: 315 pages
Where Stacie’s Copy Came From:  The Erdmann Library

Plot Basics: August Pullman isn’t an ordinary kid. He tells you in the first chapter that he is unusual looking, so bad that he doesn’t even want to describe himself. What Auggie doesn’t tell you is that he is funny, smart, and has a wicked sense of humor about his disability.

Auggie is going into middle school, which will be his first day of school ever. To help him out, the school has enlisted Julian, Jack, and Charlotte to be his guides and introduce him to the school.

Banter Points: About 12 months ago, my then 10 year old came home and demanded, “Mom, you have to read this book. It’s called Wonder and it’s amazing.” It was a book whose cover I had seen enough to know it was perilously close to my “too popular” rule. I told him it sounded interesting and left it at that. Over the next 12 months, he would bug me periodically, asking me if I read it yet. The answer was always no.

In September, he brought it home from his teacher’s in class library and told me I had a week to finish it. So I did.

Auggie is a pretty amazing kid. He has a severe facial deformity that basically has a 1 in a million chance at happening. He is going to school for the first time, since numerous medical procedures kept him out of school for the elementary years. “I won’t describe what I look like. Whatever you’re thinking, it’s probably worse …” I really don’t know what I was thinking as I fell into the story. I was won over by Auggie’s wit and wisdom. I was impressed by the people in Auggie’s life, including the thoughts and feelings that they share in their chapters in the book.

And despite my preconceptions, it was a solid read. It was definitely meant for kids, not adults. But it didn’t completely flop in the crossover either. My favorite character was actually Miranda Navas, who is the best friend of Auggie’s sister. She moves to high school in the novel, along with Olivia (Auggie’s sister.) Their relationship has always been entwined with Auggie. Their perspective on the situation and how they are impacted is astonishingly well written and displayed.

Bummer Points: Every book needs a villain and it’s Julian. I think he was a brilliant character to have in the story. I’m regretful and disappointed that he is needed to be the catalyst in the story.

I’m also thrilled at the way his part of the story turned out.

And a part of me thinks, wow, I am a horrible person. Look at how great Auggie is and all of the crap he deals with. My life isn’t bad and I don’t have half his spirit.

Stacie’s Recommendation: If you have a teen who struggles with acceptance issues, Auggie is great. And give your loved ones a hug. You’ll want to after reading this one.


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