Monday, January 20, 2014

Review: Wonder by R.J. Palacio (January Adventures through Awkwardness)

Publish date: 2012
Source: Classroom library
Format: Hardcover
Length: 315 pages
"August (Auggie) Pullman was born with a facial deformity that prevented him from going to a mainstream school—until now. He's about to start 5th grade at Beecher Prep, and if you've ever been the new kid then you know how hard that can be. 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, despite appearances?

R. J. Palacio has written a spare, warm, uplifting story that will have readers laughing one minute and wiping away tears the next. With wonderfully realistic family interactions (flawed, but loving), lively school scenes, and short chapters, Wonder is accessible to readers of all levels.
" (Goodreads)

So obviously I've heard of Wonder...who hasn't? Everyone loves this book but I still didn't feel the need to read it, probably because of the age of Auggie. What can I say? I tend to be drawn to books with older protagonists. I figured it would make a good choice for January's Adventures through Awkwardness challenge, since the genre is contemporary, and I was right!

Wonder is the story of Auggie, born with a facial deformity and starting 5th grade. He's never been to a real school before and is afraid of being the new kid, like we all would be. The story is essentially his 5th grade school year, taking us through the ups and downs of being the new kid and him trying to show his classmates that he's just a normal person too. Some of the kids were predictably terrible to him but some were surprisingly nice and providing some good moments in the book. Auggie's parents were very supportive, which was nice to see as well. I didn't really have any issues with the storyline.

The one thing that kind of confused me while reading was the multiple points of view. I liked reading from Via's POV but didn't think any of the others were necessary. I thought they took away from the story, especially a few that only were around for a few pages. I also had issues with certain conflicts not being resolved, but instead just forgotten about (but maybe that's just me reading this as an adult reader).

Overall, I think Wonder has huge appeal for late elementary and middle school readers. I know some teachers are starting to include this in their curriculum, which is great, and should provide some excellent conversations in class. If you've read it, what did you think?

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