Wonder by R.J. Palacio: Book Review

Title: Wonder
Author: R.J. Palacio
Publication details: January 3rd 2013 by Corgi Childrens (first published February 2012)
Genre: Middle grade, contemporary

Wonder follows a not-so-ordinary boy, August, as he navigates his first-ever school experience.

August or Auggie was home-schooled by his mother through fourth grade because of his medical condition and facial abnormalities. But in his fifth grade, his parents decided that he is going to a private, mainstream school- the Beecher Prep.

Everyone knows it will not be an easy transition, there will be challenges for sure, difficulties, issues, but eventually August finally agreed. And so what follows is a heart-warming, eye-opening, and lesson-filled story not only of August, but also of those closest to him.

Wonder is a refreshing coming of age story of a boy who despite the difficulties pushes on.

Middle grade in itself is not easy. There are a lot of adjustments, a lot of changes. And inevitably, there are the usual bullies. With these, I was intrigued how school would be for August knowing that he is not an "ordinary" kid.

In the beginning, we have the usual introduction of the main character, his medical condition and the decision to go to a mainstream school. As the story progresses, I get to meet other characters and their roles in the story. And later on, I was able to know August- his interests and funny side, his vulnerabilities and resiliency.

I liked how the author was able to convey August's feelings, both the good and especially the bad ones. I saw how he struggled but still persisted despite his many down times. His character is three-dimensional, making him easy to connect with.

Another thing I really liked about the book is the incorporation of other POVs. We also follow other characters- Via, Jack, Miranda, Summer, Justin- which gave me a wider view of what's happening, as well as the thoughts and feelings of the secondary characters. There are other characters I wish I have read about eg, Julian and Auggie's parents, but otherwise, I liked the style of the author, and I was able to connect to all the narrators.

Wonder is packed with insights and lessons. One of which is to choose kindness. Humans are complex beings and have their own backstories so who are we to judge? Choosing kindness is not always easy, but it is one character worth having.

With multiple POVs, the author was also able to show that almost always our actions and decisions do not only affect one person. So aside from kindness, treating other people fairly and the importance of having correct and good communication are also central to the story.

The ending of the book is satisfactory. There is a resolution but at the same time it left me thinking of what will happen to August's succeeding years in school. Nevertheless, it ends with a happy and hopeful tone.

Overall, Wonder is a good read. It's not really a light read but it is easy to read. Funny and heart-warming- I definitely recommend this book!

R.J. Palacio lives in NYC with her husband, two sons, and two dogs. For more than twenty years, she was an art director and graphic designer, designing book jackets for other people while waiting for the perfect time in her life to start writing her own novel. But one day several years ago, a chance encounter with an extraordinary child in front of an ice cream store made R. J. realize that the perfect time to write that novel had finally come. Wonder is her first novel. She did not design the cover, but she sure does love it. (Goodreads)