Wednesday, April 11, 2018


Wonder. R. J. Palacio. 2012. Random House. 320 pages.

First sentence: I know I'm not an ordinary ten-year-old kid. I mean, sure, I do ordinary things. I eat ice cream. I ride my bike. I play ball. I have an Xbox. Stuff like that makes me ordinary. I guess. And I feel ordinary. Inside. But I know ordinary kids don't make other ordinary kids run away screaming in playgrounds. I know ordinary kids don't get stared at wherever they go. If I found a magic lamp and I could have one wish, I would wish that I had a normal face that no one ever noticed at all. I would wish that I could walk down the street without people seeing me and then doing that look-away thing. Here's what I think: the only reason I'm not ordinary is that no one else sees me that way.

Premise/plot: Wonder has many narrators but one central focus: August Pullman. Auggie is a wonder-ful kid but is he ordinary or extraordinary? Does looking different from everyone else make you abnormal and less human?

The book opens with August about to begin fifth grade at a new school. He's been home-schooled previously. Both for practical--medical--reasons and for personal--more emotional--reasons. But. The time has come. He is as ready as he'll ever be to enter the 'real' world and face the best and worst of human nature.

Before the school year begins, he meets the middle school principal, Mr. Tushman, and three of his future classmates: Julian, Jack Will, and Charlotte. But Auggie's first friend isn't a "buddy" assigned from the principal. It is a girl named Summer who joins him at the lunch table that first difficult day of school.

Via, August's older sister, has her own terrible first day of school. She's lost her best friend, Miranda, to an edgy "popular" crowd. Both Via and Auggie struggle to find that just-right "belonging" place in the wild and crazy jungle of school. Her story, in a small way, goes to show that looking normal, being pretty, isn't a guarantee of a problem-free life.

In fact, if the book has a message, it is that every single person struggles and faces challenges.

My thoughts: It is surprising that I'm just now rereading Wonder considering how much I loved, loved, loved it. Looking back, I see I reviewed it one month after its release. (Perhaps that was the best time of all to read it. Before the hype. Before the movie. I'm speaking generally.)

I loved the story, the writing, the characterization, the happy ending. What I didn't quite love was the not-so-happy ending for the dog. Don't get attached.

Favorite quotes:
When given the choice between being right or being kind, choose kind. (48)
"Why do I have to be so ugly, Mommy?" I whispered.
"No, baby, you're not..."
"I know I am."
She kissed me all over my face. She kissed my eyes that came down too far. She kissed my cheeks that looked punched in. She kissed my tortoise mouth. She said soft words that I know were meant to help me, but words can't change my face. (60)
August is the Sun. Me and Mom and Dad are planets orbiting the Sun. The rest of our family and friends are asteroids and comets floating around the planets orbiting the Sun. The only celestial body that doesn't orbit August the Sun is Daisy the dog, and that's only because to her little doggy eyes, August's face doesn't look very different from any other human's face. (82)
"Dad, I loved that helmet! It meant a lot to me! I was bummed beyond belief when it got lost--don't you remember?"
"Of course, I remember, Auggie," he said softly. "Ohh, Auggie, don't be mad. I'm sorry. I just couldn't stand seeing you wear that thing on your head anymore, you know? I didn't think it was good for you." He was trying to look me in the eye, but I wouldn't look at him. "Come on, Auggie, please try to understand," he continued, putting his hand under my chin and tilting my face toward him. "You were wearing that helmet all the time. And the real, real, real, real truth is: I missed seeing your face, Auggie. I know you don't always love it, but you have to understand...I love it. I love this face of yours, Auggie, completely and passionately. And it kind of broke my heart that you were always covering it up." (291)

© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Cathy said...

Such a cute book and movie. Loved them both! : )

Brenda said...

Haven't read Wonder in awhile but love its messaging and the quote "When given the choice between being right or being kind, choose kind."