Friday, September 19, 2014

Review: Wonder by R.J. Palacio

Author R.J. Palacio
Title: Wonder
Author: R.J. Palacio
Published: 2012 by The Bodley Head (Random House group)
Pages: 313
Find it at: Flipkart / Amazon
My Rating: 5/5! <3

Goodreads Blurb!
I won't describe what I look like. Whatever you're thinking, it's probably worse.

August (Auggie) Pullman was born with a facial deformity that prevented him from going to a mainstream school—until now. He's about to start 5th grade at Beecher Prep, and if you've ever been the new kid then you know how hard that can be. The thing is Auggie's just an ordinary kid, with an extraordinary face. But can he convince his new classmates that he's just like them, despite appearances?

R. J. Palacio has written a spare, warm, uplifting story that will have readers laughing one minute and wiping away tears the next. With wonderfully realistic family interactions (flawed, but loving), lively school scenes, and short chapters, Wonder is accessible to readers of all levels.

My Thoughts!
The use of words here might seem lame, but Wonder is a wonderful story. August (Auggie) Pullman is a ten year old kid with a facial deformity (craniofacial abnormalities). That shouldn't be something to define him by, but it's also something that cannot be ignored, not at first anyway. It's hard for him to deal with it and within the carefully presented story in Wonder, we live through a year in Auggie's life as he makes a major transition - going to school for the first time in fifth grade, after having been home-schooled for years. It's not a sad story, but it's a lot about dealing with problems. It's about friendship, love and kindness and all the human things that take time to develop, but develop they do. He's most certainly not disabled, so his parents choose to send him to a regular school. It's hard for August to initially find himself the center of attention for so many people at once. He's used to being stared at, or perhaps the quick saw-you-but-ohmygod-I'll-look-away kind of awkward look, but definitely not coming across a huge group of middle schoolers who could be mean, awkward or totally kind. 

Pic credit: Mr. Solarz
Wonder is August's story, but it's also about his family. His mom, dad and fourteen year old sister, Olivia, all of whom love him to bits. You'd think having an unusual face would be hard, and it sure is, but the book also explores how people around August deal with it. It's quite heart-warming to see how much his family loves him, and how the problem makes some of their habits different from other families. One of the best things about this story is that it is full of optimism. Auggie's family, his teachers and the friends he eventually makes, all learn to love him and make him feel confident of his abilities. He's a normal kid with a classic reverence for Star Wars and love for his dog, Daisy. He's smart, intelligent, sometimes witty and honestly sincere. And let's face it: very, very brave.

The book explores not just August's life, but also those of other characters, which is again, one of the coolest things about this book. It's been written and presented just so well. You wouldn't really get to judge anyone, because just when you are about to form your opinions of a character, bam! You'd get their side of the story. When Olivia (Via) does something you'd be inclined to say is wrong, she'd put in her story, and then you'd think even more broadly and look at Auggie as a normal dude. I think the writing style does something to the book's overall feel. It doesn't ask you to pity a boy with a haphazard face, even when it talks about his problems, because it shows how people do try to deal with it, how they themselves learn a lot and how it is possible to get over anything with love and kindness. It is very much capable of instilling in hope. Like Auggie's mom says, "there are always going to be jerks in the world. But I really believe that there are more good people on this earth than bad people, and the good people watch out for each other and take care of each other."

I loved all the characters, with the slight exception of Julian, the mean kid who bullied Auggie, but now since in the latest version of the book, the author has included a chapter on Julian, I'm looking forward to reading it! Perhaps that would explain things from his point of view, just like it was done with others. I loved the girl called Summer too. We so need more kids like her! And like Jack. Apart from the emotion-invoking writing and complete, lovable characters, Wonder is also a great example of a really good book. Maybe now that my work involves looking at these sort of things and that's why I'm observing it, but it has many elements that a budding writer could make use of. But coming back to the story, another thing that struck me were the dialogues - it was like each character spoke on its own, in their unique voice. Those are capable of making a reader laugh, smile, giggle, feel anxious, whatever, on their own accord. The ending is brilliant! I couldn't have been more satisfied, although I didn't want the book to end either. Oh, Mr. Tushman (yep, that's his name!), I liked you in the beginning and all through, but you took all the love with the ending! :')

I can see many re-readings in the line! Wonder is recommended to everyone. 

Some quotable quotes from the book:

“If every person in this room made it a rule that wherever you are, whenever you can, you will try to act a little kinder than is necessary - the world really would be a better place. And if you do this, if you act just a little kinder than is necessary, someone else, somewhere, someday, may recognize in you, in every single one of you, the face of God.” 

“Do people look the same when they go to heaven, mommy?"

"I don't know. I don't think so."
"Then how do people recognize each other?"
"I don't know, sweetie. They just feel it. You don't need your eyes to love, right? That's how it is in heaven. It's just love, and no one forgets who they love.”


“The things we do are the most important things of all. They are more important than what we say or what we look like. The things we do outlast our mortality. The things we do are like monuments that people build to honor heroes after they’ve died. They’re like the pyramids that the Egyptians built to honor the pharaohs. Only instead of being made out of stone, they’re made out of the memories people have of you. That’s why your deeds are like your monuments. Built with memories instead of with stone.”

“Here’s what I think: the only reason I’m not ordinary is that no one else sees me that way.”


2 comments:

  1. Hi, Ashna! This book is amazing as well as your review about it. Wonder is called Extraordinary here in Brazil, which I think is amazing because Auggie really is an extraordinary boy having an extraordinary story behind him. What moves me most was the reason why Palacio wrote about Auggie, how the music of Natalie Merchant and her reaction with a kid that looked like Auggie inspired her to give vision to these kids. I hope there are more books so sensitive like this one, and so powerful.

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    1. Hi Ms Brown! That's such a nice name for the book! I agree that Auggie really was an extraordinary kid and so brave. It indeed is a powerful book :')
      Thanks so much for your kind comment. I loved reading about what you think about it. :')

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