Not Just for Kids! Wonder by R.J. Palacio

First ImpressionsWonder book cover
If we are lucky, we encounter a MUST READ or two in our lifetimes. These books are game-changers that transcend and appeal to children, teenagers and adults alike. In 2012, Wonder by R.J. Palacio, one of these rare treasures, was published. While it didn’t win any major awards (think Newbery Medal), it won a place on my bookshelf, my recommended reading lists, and my heart.

Drive-by Summary
10-year-old Auggie Pullman has been home-schooled his entire life. Due to being born with severe facial abnormalities, home has just felt safer, more stable and less judgmental. However, life is about to change as Auggie takes his parent’s recommendations and enters 5th grade at a local private middle school. Being the new kid in school is always difficult, but so much more so for Auggie as he cannot blend in. Told through rotating narrators such as Auggie, his family and schoolmates, this is a story of prejudice, judgment, friendship, acceptance and ultimately love for the human spirit.

My Favorite Character
While I love Auggie, I have to say I really enjoyed Auggie’s older sister, Olivia (Via to her family). Via is fiercely protective of Auggie, but as she enters high school, she tries desperately to figure out who she is and how she can define herself as someone other than Auggie’s sister.

Words to Live By
I have a hard time just choosing one. So here are a few:

“I think the only person in the world who realizes how ordinary I am is me.”

“Shall we make a new rule of life…always to try to be a little kinder than is necessary?”

Recommended For
Everyone. I’m serious! I highly recommend this for parents to read with their upper-elementary and middle school child, and for book clubs to read and discuss together. And then when you finish, just randomly leave it on the bus, or in a waiting room for someone else to discover. This book is written in a very honest, straight-forward manner that resonates with everyone who reads it.

Final Say
Wonder is just “one of those books.” You know the ones! Their characters never venture far from your thoughts or emotions. Their lives become entwined with yours and they are now your best friends, family members even. Wonder is a book that will break your heart, and at the same time, give you hope. It is a book that acts like a mirror in the most awful, uncomfortable ways, but does so with such grace and empathy that every reader finishes the book a better human being. It reminds us that we are all in-fact human, and in that we have the ability and choice to either love or hurt; to accept or reject; to be genuine or false. A true gem.

Fall in love with Wonder today at Bellingham Public Library!

— Bethany