Book review: Wonder by R J Palacio

wonderI had seen a few glowing reviews of this book, so I was pleased when I spotted it in the Young Adult literature section of my local library.

The book is about 10-year-old August – and we know from the blurb on the back cover that he’s not your average boy:

“My name is August. I won’t describe what I look like. Whatever you’re thinking, it’s probably worse.”

From birth, August hasn’t looked like other children, and we find out through the course of the book more about his appearance. As a result, life has been hard but he is still a happy, funny boy. Then he finds out he is to start school, having been home-schooled by his mother up till now. For someone like August, starting school is never going to be easy…wonder2

August narrates the beginning of this book, and we find out more about his life and his family, who are hugely loving and supportive towards him, including his older sister Olivia (or Via for short). Reading about what August, or Auggie, has to go through is incredibly sad, as his life is so tough.

What I really loved about this book was that it actually has different narrators, and other – sometimes short – parts of the book are narrated by Via and August’s friends. This adds a whole other dimension to the book as we see how people see August, and some of these sections are brutally honest. I found Via the most interesting character in many ways as she has had to deal with so much – not just as an older sister to Auggie but as the daughter of parents who are totally preoccupied with looking after their son as best they can. The book also deals with bullying and the difficulties of school for all young children – not just those with the same obvious differences Auggie has.

I thought this was a fantastic book and I found it truly heartbreaking it times. It is one of those books that will stay with you for a long time after reading, and I would say that all young people should read it! There are lots of messages about kindness in the book and I think these are messages that all of us can do with hearing, whatever our age.

I only have two minor complaints about the book. One is that the banter between Auggie and his classmates didn’t seem realistic at times – they sounded like older children at times, and I did have to double-check that Auggie really was just 10! Also the ending didn’t really work for me as it was all a bit too positive. But overall I thought this was a fantastic book and highly recommend it – to adults but particularly to those aged 12 and upwards.

My rating: 9 out of 10

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