Wonder by R.J. Palacio is one of those remarkable books that manages to utterly captivate; it makes you grin, it makes you cry, and it, at times makes you a little angry (righteous anger to be sure, but anger none the less). A simple story about a boy with an extraordinary face, getting through his first year in a real school, Wonder is anything but ordinary.
Told in multiple narratives, readers get a glimpse into the life of a ten-year-old Auggie, disfigured from birth with extreme facial abnormalities, as he tries to maneuver his way through the harsh world that is middle school. Readers hear from Auggie, his family, and friends as they all struggle to deal with the everyday ups and downs of existence, while also dealing with the sometimes cruel realities of life for someone who is anything, but ordinary. In a time where more and more of the novels for kids and teens deal with dysfunctional families, teen angst, and substance abuse, Wonder is a breath a fresh air. The family, despite dealing with such a heart wrenching issue, is shockingly ordinary. The parents are married (to each other), they care about their children and actually spend quality time with them. The kids have the same issues as most kids do—fighting with friends, struggling through homework and school, dealing with the changes of getting older. This is an average family just doing their best to be happy. I love that for once, I can pick up a book that features a group of people put into one of the most extraordinary circumstances, and instead of imploding and turning on one another, they actually support each other and work together. It sounds sappy and Walton-esq, but it isn’t. They still have their problems, serious ones at that, it’s just the handling of it is a bit more real and relatable to the average reader.
I really can’t recommend this book enough. A book for all ages, Wonder is astonishing in its ability to capture so much in such a simple way. For such an unpretentious book it packs a lasting punch. It’s charming, funny, moving, and everything else you could ask for in a novel. A truly worthy read.