Monday, April 9, 2012

Wonder by R.J. Palacio

Starting middle school is a challenge for any child. But for 10 year old August Pullman, "Auggie", it seems like an almost insurmountable feat. Born with severe craniofacial abnormalities, Auggie has been homeschooled his entire life and undergone countless surgeries. When his parents decide to send him to private school, he is not sure how his new classmates will react to his strange appearance. While initially, he does make a few friends, most of the children stay far away from him and he also attracts the attention of an outright bully.
Through it all, Auggie's voice as a typical 10 year old, rings true, even as he faces obstacles that are anything but ordinary. Adding even more richness to the story is the fact that there are also chapters told in the voices of Auggie's sister Olivia, his supposed "best friend" Jack and Olivia's boyfriend and best friend. As each one of them details how their lives are changed through their interactions with Auggie, it becomes clear that while Auggie's difficulties are extreme, no one is exempt from the challenges that life often throws our way.
A turning point is reached when Auggie is the target of bullies on a school trip. When he receives help from an unlikely source, he realizes that sometimes the worst of circumstances turn out to be the moments when our true character and the characters of others shines through.
This is a completely satisfying read that honestly portrays the perils of middle school as well as the individual suffering that those that are different must often face in our society. 2011
Highly recommended.

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