Wonder, by R. J. Palacio
Publish Date: February 14, 2012
Published by: Knopf
Genre: MG Fiction
My Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3.5 out of 5 stars)
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?
Okay, so I finally, finally, read this book and I’m not going to lie, I was a little underwhelmed based on how much people talked about it (and also the fact that a movie has been made based on it). While I absolutely loved the characters and thought that they each spoke true to their own nature and their age level, I thought that the overall story fell into more preachy towards the end. These kids who spent the first half of the school year playing a game around not touching Auggie and bullying his one friend just because he was friends with him, suddenly turned around and were all buddy buddy with him after one incident involving kids from another school. So…it was okay when you did it but not when they did? Sure there was a period between where most of the kids just sort of let their bullying stop, but none of them actively ever apologized to Auggie or Jack Will either. So for me it just felt like a sudden turn-a-round of character that didn’t really feel okay because they never really acknowledged how mean they were to Auggie.
I feel like there was some growth in a few of the characters, like Jack Will and Amos, but I would have liked to see others grow as well. Julian remained a bully and instigator up until the end, and I don’t know if he will ever learn his lesson or not. And all these other side characters just had a sudden change of heart. I would have liked to see more of the teachers maybe saying something, or encouraging things – those precepts of Mr. Browne’s were really interesting and I thought would play a bigger role in the overall book, but they kind of just…fell into the ether in this book. They were there once or twice but didn’t make much of an impact on the actual story itself. Also, I hate it when teachers turn around and tell students that they were completely aware of the bullying situation they were in, but did absolutely nothing to help stop it.
Like I said I really enjoyed the characters themselves, especially Via, whose perspective was beautiful and heartbreaking, and the overall story was engaging and easy to read. I just felt that it fell a little short at the end and became a little preachy about choosing to be kind, when most of the students in the school could have used that advice many times over throughout the book rather than just at the end.
Beat the Backlist | Books Completed Toward Goal: 17/24