Up Late Reading R.J. Palacio’s Wonder

From Goodreads.com “I won’t describe what I look like. Whatever you’re thinking, it’s probably worse. 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.”

I found myself absolutely incapable of putting this book down once I started it.  I mean, let’s face it, any book that starts off quoting a Natalie Merchant song (“Fate smiled and destiny laughed as she came to my cradle”) is going to be interesting. The narrative shifts after about 80 pages, which came as a surprise to me, but I loved that this gave me different perspectives of Auggie’s life–from his sister Via, his friend Summer, and even characters you might not expect. What this narrative shift does is take us inside the mind of the people who are the planets orbiting Auggie.  

Although this book explores the first year in school for ten-year-old Auggie (his fifth grade year), my high school sophomores loved this book, too.  One student talked to me about it every day for a week as she went further into the story each night. There are few texts that have a surprising moment that impacts me so deeply.  One scene in this book I remember vividly, and it was a scene that made me feel so deeply what Auggie must have felt.  I don’t want to give anything away, but let me just say that I have a better understanding of how freeing and how scary Halloween can be for someone who can wear a mask and become an entirely different person. 

The end of this book was hopeful and uplifting, but not in an over-done, cheesy way.  I loved that Palacio even included Mr. Brown’s precepts as an appendix–some great messages there. I highly recommend Wonder for teachers, students, and any adult who wants the story of a quirky, thoughtful, strong-willed young man. 

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posted by Kate k1a9t7e5 @ gmail.com

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Up Late Reading R.J. Palacio’s Wonder

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