Saturday, April 21, 2012


Wonder by R.J. Palacio (2012)

August Pullman has always been different, has always endured the stares and gasps of people meeting him for the first time. He was born with severe craniofacial abnormalities and though he has endured surgery after surgery, he still doesn't look like a regular kid. Home-schooled through the fourth-grade level, Auggie is about to encounter the biggest, most frightening, challenge of his life: middle school.

No matter how much his parents and school administrators try to easy the transition, it doesn't change the fact that kids can be incredibly cruel. Thanks to his family and his few friends, Auggie has the self-confidence to make it (even if barely) through the really tough times, and his courage and resilience inspire kindness in others. 

The novel was extremely touching, as you would expect, but also laced with humor. Auggie's self-deprecating style is charming. When his friend Jack asks whether Auggie will be always look that way, or be able to have plastic surgery, Auggie points at his face and says "Hello? This is after plastic surgery!" Jack laughs hysterically, retorting, "Dude, you should sue your doctor!" Both boys then erupt in laughter before being chastised by their teacher.

Wonder is usually shelved in the children's department in libraries, but the appeal is ageless. We could all do well to follow a precept from one of Auggie's teachers and be kinder than necessary. If Auggie can manage to do it, as mean as people can be to him, then surely the rest of us can too.

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