Review: Wonder by R.J. Palacio

71thg84btulPublication Date: February 14, 2014

Synopsis:
August Pullman is ten years old and starting his first year at a public school. His numerous surgeries have kept him from going to school until now. But August is nervous because he doesn’t look like other kids.

He has a facial difference that has made him stand out ever since he was born. People stare, kids scream and run away, and no one outside of his family knows how to act around him. Middle school may be hard, but it’s harder when you look nothing like your peers.

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Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Date Read: April 3, 2018

Thoughts:
I’ve been wanting to pick this up for awhile now, and with the movie recently released, I knew that I had to read the book before watching the movie. Or in my case, listening to the audiobook (yes, this is my 9th audiobook so far this year).

I really only knew a little about the story before starting it. People talked about it a lot, but they mostly talked about how amazing the story is and how they all cried. Then there was me, knowing virtually nothing and getting most of my general idea of the story from the movie trailer. Obviously, that was slightly different from the book.

Firstly, the audiobook had a cast of narrators, which I wasn’t aware of when I got the audiobook. It made the experience so much more interesting and I greatly enjoyed listening to a wide cast reading the story to me. If you have the chance to listen to the audiobook, I highly recommend it because you’ll have such a great time.

This book delved so deeply into insecurities, bullying, sense of self, self-acceptance, and friendship. There are so many lessons that people of all ages can learn from this book, regardless of how old they are. I can understand why some teachers make this required reading for their elementary and middle school students because it’s such an educational book. It’s so important for young kids to learn how to accept people who are different, even if it’s not a physical difference.

The story was so much more than I could have imagined. It’s really hard to talk about this without spoiling it because so little is given away in the synopsis. Going into the book, I knew that August was starting 5th grade and that he would learn what it’s like to make friends in a new environment. What I didn’t know was that it would also talk a lot about the relationships he has with his family and his own experience with accepting himself.

I want to say so much about this, but I struggle to do so without spoiling anything for you. I had such an amazing time discovering the story for myself without knowing much about it, so I would like to make that possible for you too. I know, that feels like a cop-out for me not writing much about this, but really, I want you to experience this without knowing much because I think that’s the best way to go about it.

The relationships in this book are so excellently written. Both the friendships and the family relationships are written with so much care and intention, you can really see how the author worked hard to build and develop them. Never once did I question why a relationship existed between two characters because I knew that there was some reason behind it. Each relationship built up some other element of the story and unfolded something new. It made the story so much richer.

Yes, I did cry while listening to this. I’ve never cried while listening to an audiobook before, so this was an interesting experience. Especially because I was standing in the middle of a dance studio before rehearsal while I was waiting for other dancers to show up. I literally stood in the studio and cried, quickly wiped my eyes, and made sure my eyes weren’t red as two people walked into the studio. Although, I will have to say that I probably didn’t cry at the same point other people did. My reason for crying hit much closer to home, and for that, I can applaud the book for making me feel all that emotion while listening to someone narrate the story to me.

Finally, as we get to the end, I can’t say that I wanted anything other than what I got. It was perfect in its own way and left me with all the closure I needed. Thinking back, yes, there was a question I had at the end of the book, but it could have been something I missed while walking around campus or doing my dishes. Other than that, I was thoroughly satisfied and happy with how the book ended.

Character(s):
I really loved August, who commonly goes by Auggie. He was such an engaging and interesting character, I couldn’t help but feel like he was someone I wanted to protect from all the dangers of the world. At several times, he felt like a younger sibling and I knew that he would be a character to stick with me for the rest of my life. He has taught me so many things that I will remember forever.

Overall:
5 stars. Read this by yourself, to your siblings/kids/students, or with a friend. No matter how old you are or where you are in life, there is something that you’ll be able to learn from this. Please, pick it up.

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