Wonder is Truly Wonderful!

I started hearing about the book Wonder by R.J. Palacio a few months ago thanks to Mr. Schu at Watch. Connect. Read.  The more I heard him (and others) begin to talk about the power of this book, the more I wanted to read it.  I was very excited when Mr. Schu gave away some Advanced Reader Copies of the book on his blog.  I’m not usually a lucky person, but apparently I was meant to get a copy of this book because I won the drawing.  Also, as luck would have it, I got sick on my birthday and got to stay home from school.  During my day of silence, I finished the whole book.

I don’t even know how to begin describing this book.  It’s so much more than a book; it’s an experience of immersing yourself in the shoes of someone so unlike yourself.  It’s an adventure, a journey.  The main character August Pullman (Auggie) is born with a facial deformity, and as he says, “Whatever you’re thinking, it’s probably worse.”  Up until now, Auggie has been homeschooled, but he’s taking the leap of moving into a new school and all of the challenges that come with making friends, attending a formal school, and more, but he faces all with this with a major difference that he was born with.

R.J. Palacio tells this story from multiple perspectives.  I’ve come to realize that these kinds of books are among my favorites.  I love how the same situations are viewed completely different when seen through the eyes of several people and how individual stories weave together to tell a whole story.  The story starts from Auggie’s perspective, and I couldn’t help but want to reach out and give Auggie a hug.  All of my problems in life seemed so small and insignificant after viewing the world through Auggie.  He’s brave, smart, and funny.  I found myself wanting to spend more time with him, so I was a little sad when the book switched perspectives, but it didn’t take long for me to be glad that it did.  I liked getting inside the other characters’ heads and understanding why they made the choices that they made.  I easily made connections with them when I’ve been in similar situations where someone had a facial deformity.  I was reminded of when my wife and I were seated with a man who had a facial deformity on our 7 day cruise.  Every night, we sat with him and his wife and enjoyed some great conversation, and we didn’t once talk about the deformity.  It was a challenge, but I couldn’t help but think how he probably had to explain his face to every person he came in contact with and how nice it might be to just sit and have some normal conversation.  I was glad that Auggie met some of these kinds of characters in the book.

I know great things are ahead for this book.  It’s early in the year, but this is a standout book that is a must-read.  I’ve already ordered our copy for the media center and can’t wait to share it with students.  In the spirit of Mr. Schu and others who are paying this book forward, I’m giving away my copy to a teacher in our school.  I can’t wait to hear what the class has to say about the book!

3 thoughts on “Wonder is Truly Wonderful!

  1. Shelley McCannon says:

    It too, am completely inspired by books where the determination of a child overides all obstacles. Differences and/or prejudices are learned. It is too often that a child recognizes differences as weaknesses rather than strengths after they have been taught by society that it is not “normal.” As I tell my students, perfect is boring. We are all experiencing this thing called “life” and we must embrace all the accomplishments and setbacks as an opportunity to learn. My son was diagnosed five years ago with Tourettes. While it is not a visible difference, it is something that is hard to explain to others. We have worked really hard the past few years in acknowledging that this is part of who he is and that is why he is so amazing. This illness does not define him but gives him the opportunity to educate others. Each adult, teen, and child is truly amazing. We all have something to offer and the willingness of others to take time to listen will result in something phenomenal. Love and acceptance does not have rules or criteria, these are things that are innate and should be embraced and not tainted by others.

  2. Heath Verreault says:

    I’m intrigued and can’t wait to read it.
    I would HIGHLY recommend Out of My Mind. It is an elementary/middle crossover, SSYR book for 2012. You will be transformed and look at disabled students differently. I’m thinking of doing a book study with my teachers.

    • plemmonsa says:

      Heath,

      I completely agree about Out of My Mind. I had similar feelings when I read it. I think these two book definitely connect with one another. Wonder stayed with me and kept popping into my head long after I read it.

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