Wonder. It's a great word. In the noun form, an online dictionary defines it as "a feeling of surprise mingled with admiration, caused by something beautiful, unexpected, unfamiliar, or inexplicable." Nothing can sum up this next book better. And that's why R.J. Palacio's debut middle grade novel is so aptly titled, Wonder.
August Pullman is ten years old. It's the first thing readers learn about him. And even though, Auggie also states that he is "not an ordinary ten-year-old", he goes on to tell readers all the things he likes to do that just about any American kid his age would also like to do. But the reason, he is not ordinary is due to a facial deformity that causes other children to be afraid of him. So when his parents decide to enroll him in school for the first time in his life, Auggie must face a new challenge: the fifth grade.
But Wonder is not Auggie's story. Not entirely anyway. He is the main character and the true inspiration of the book. But Palacio structures her work so that readers can follow this year of Auggie's life through not only his eyes, but those of his older sister, her boyfriend, his sister's former friend, and two other fifth graders at Auggie's new school. This change in point of view offers a look into the way other people view August and how he impacts their lives as well.
My mom first recommended this book to me. Then, a former student was reading it and told me that I should read it too. Finally, a member of my critique group--the same friend who recommended The Fault in Our Stars, who from here on out will be known as my book headhunter--highly recommended it. So after these three glowing reviews, I read the book and I was amazed by the unexpected beauty that I found on the pages within the cover. And even though this is a fictional story about make believe characters, there is a truth to its message. It is like Mr. Tushman says in the book, "...someone else, somewhere, someday, may recognize in you, in every single one of you, the face of God." Then, he added, "Or whatever politically correct spiritual representation of universal goodness you happen to believe in." And that, my friends, is the true wonder of this book.
Thanks for reading Volume Two in the Books That Matter Series. This is just my opinion For What It Is Worth. If you are an educator, student, or parent who is reading this and you are looking to do something that could help children who feel a little like Auggie, I strongly recommend starting Unified Sports, a registered program of Special Olympics, at your school. Because as August Pullman states, "Everyone in the world should get a standing ovation at least once in their life because we all overcometh the world."