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!