Saturday, March 3, 2012

Book Review: Wonder, by R. J. Palacio

Wonder was a painful read. I think it's a great book, but I'm still upset by it.

I may be too "tender-hearted" for this book. I was choked up almost the entire book. Now, books don't often make me cry, but when they do, it's because some main character goes off to war and dies or something. This book wasn't like that at all. Wonder was emotionally gut-wrenching.

August has severe facial deformities from birth, and has been homeschooled, since he had so many surgeries and was so ill for much of his childhood. Now that he's going into 5th grade, his parents have encouraged him to go to regular school, and August has agreed.

He, of course, goes through many uncomfortable, cruel situations with the kids at the school. But he's dealt with this all of his life. The principal has "assigned" three students to help him get adjusted, and this has had mixed results. There's also Summer, who has decided on her own to be friends with August. Summer says, "He's just a regular kid, and besides he's funny." I think Summer is in the minority as far as 5th grade students go.

August gets betrayed by his supposed best friend; he is the victim of a school rumor that if you touch him, you will get cooties. He is subjected to ridicule, and those who try to be his friend are also subjected to ridicule. It's a very complex, albeit realistic portrayal of how cruel (and, thankfully, special) kids can be.

August has a sister, Via, who has suffered just by being his sister, having to give up her parents much of the time. One of the scenes that tore me apart the worst is when August discovers she has kept the fact that she's in the school play from the family, because she's at a new school and no one knows about her deformed brother. She enjoys not having to explain August to everyone. She doesn't want her parents to bring him to the play where everyone will see him. She enjoys not having to receive their sympathy.

I understand that Palacio's resolution of the story is supposed to be uplifting, but I just couldn't get there. It's beautifully told; it's not preachy or sappy. I just felt too much pain and sorrow for August. I have too much sympathy...and can't get past that.

You should read this. Given all that I've said, I still highly recommend Wonder. It will make you very thankful for what you have. Fortunately, it's a quick read -- so my suffering wasn't too long, although I'm still dealing with the after effects. Any book that can to this is a "must read" in my opinion. You just have to read it....and you have to get your young teen readers to read it...

Published by Knopf, Feburary 14, 2012
eBook obtained from NetGalley
320 pages (qualifies for my "Books You Can Read in a Day Challenge!")

Rating: 4.5/5 (How do you rate something that caused you pain, but yet, everyone should read it??)

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  1. Interesting post. The best non-fiction book I have read for years was Better

  2. I just finished Wonder and am still working on my review. I agree, it is a fabulous read, but upsetting. Great review.
    -FABR Steph@FiveAlarmBookReviews


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