Wonder R.J. Palacio’s debut novel is topping all of the Best Books of 2012 lists, and with good reason. Wonder is joyful and sad and beautiful.
Auggie Pullman is about to start 5th grade at Beecher Prep, a rather progressive school in Upper Manhattan. Auggie has been home schooled up to this point in his life because he was born with severe facial deformities that have required surgeries, hospitalizations and constant care and attention.
While Auggie’s looks have always garnered stares and unwanted attention, he was generally safe in the cocoon provided by his family: Mom, Dad, big sister Via, his beloved dog, Daisy, the dog and a few friends. All that changes when Auggie agrees to attend Beecher Prep. While transition is difficult, Augie perseveres.
This is a family story, a school story, a story of self discovery and self acceptance. I read it in one sitting. While I was captivated by Auggie and how he grows, the novel also features some full realized secondary characters like: Auggie’s sister, Via, and her estranged friend Miranda, and Summer who befriends Auggie in the dreaded cafeteria. Although, the story is primarily Auggie’s, I enjoyed the alternating narrators and felt it helped us to learn about Auggie struggles and the effects on their family through others, specifically Via.
Everyone is struggling. Auggie works at adapting to school and the inevitable cliques, friends and bullies. Via is trying hard to figure out where she fits in the family as Auggie’s sister and protector and to find her place in her own new school and with and without friends. Their parents are on new shaky ground, wanting Auggie to spread his wings, attend school and make friends and terrified how the world will react to Auggie’s deformities. Everyone learns to cope and there is much humor and hope along the way.
Our Mother Daughter Book Club recently read Wonder and everyone’s sentiments echo my own. Wonder is thoughtful and well written and so worthwhile. I think you should run to the library and get a copy today! And it wouldn’t hurt to have some tissues handy!