Wonder by R.J. Palacio is an inspirational middle-grade novel with well-developed and authentic characters that should be at the top of your TBR pile.
Wonder follows fifth grader August “Auggie” Pullman as he enters school for the first time. Auggie never went to school for medical reasons due to severe craniofacial anomalies that cause other people to stare or even scream at him. While Auggie sees himself as a normal fifth grade boy, many of his classmates do not–they refuse to be near him and are even afraid to accidentally touch him. Told through several points of views, readers learn about Auggie’s story and how it affects every one around him.
There are so many reasons why I love this book. I love how the author uses multiple characters to tell the story so we can see how many different people react to Auggie and how they change because of his story. All of the characters are unique and none of them are perfect, which makes each character very authentic. Initially, I was disappointed that Julian didn’t have a chapter, but after reading the author’s reasoning on her website, I’m glad that she didn’t (read her reasoning here).
Even though we don’t get a Julian chapter, I think the emails from Julian’s parents contrasted with Jack’s story with his babysitter help us understand Julian’s actions, even if we don’t agree with them. It shows the large role that adults play in shaping children’s opinions. I’m studying special education in college and whenever I tell people this, they automatically assume that I’m working with students who have no ability to learn any school content. In this book, Julian’s parents just look at Auggie and assume he can’t be learning the same material as their son, even though he outperforms many students in fifth grade. On the other hand, Jack experiences something completely different, which affects how he treats Auggie. All of the little stories in this book were so realistic and helped me better understand the character’s motivations and actions.
I also enjoyed the precepts at the end of the book that were submitted by the students over the summer. I liked how they really showed each character’s personality and for some it showed their growth. I was expecting the precepts to be part of the big moment at the ending, but I’m actually glad they weren’t because it made the book less predictable. Also, the big moment at the end better suits the book.
Overall, Wonder is a wonderful story with a great message, so I give Wonder five out of five stars.
Who was your favorite character in Wonder?