Monday, April 18, 2016

Wonder by R.J. Palacio and read by Diana Steele, Nick Podehl, and Kate Rudd

Summary from Goodreads:
You can't blend in when you were born to stand out.

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

August Pullman wants to be an ordinary ten-year-old. He does ordinary things. He eats ice cream. He plays on his Xbox. He feels ordinary - inside.

But Auggie is far from ordinary. Ordinary kids don't make other ordinary kids run away screaming in playgrounds. Ordinary kids don't get stared at wherever they go.

Born with a terrible facial abnormality, Auggie has been home-schooled by his parents his whole life, in an attempt to protect him from the cruelty of the outside world. Now, for the first time, he's being sent to a real school - and he's dreading it. All he wants is to be accepted - but can he convince his new classmates that he's just like them, underneath it all?

Narrated by Auggie and the people around him whose lives he touches forever, Wonder is a funny, frank, astonishingly moving debut to read in one sitting, pass on to others, and remember long after the final page.
This is one of those books that I’ve pretended to have read for years. I feel like there are some books you just can’t get away with not reading, while working as a Youth Services librarian. This is one of them. It’s not that I didn’t want to read it. It’s just that I’m a “right moment” kind of reader. I can’t always read a book I know will put me to tears. I need to save it for the right moment.
I listened to the audio book. It took me a while to accept the narrator of Auggie. At first she kind of sounded like one of the aunts from the Simpsons. But then the voice grew on me. Auggie grew on me. I came to love his character a lot more than I was expecting to. And I guess in that respect, I’m a lot like the side characters of this novel who also all come to love Auggie more than they expected to.
This is truly, at it’s core, a powerful story. Did I cry? Was I right to leave this for the right moment? Definitely. The problem with doing the audio version, was I’d sometimes show up to work with tears in my eyes. They weren’t even always sad tears. Sometimes they were tears of anger. And sometimes tears of joy. This book had such a way with playing with all of my emotions.
I’ve heard people say they wished the book was all in Auggie’s perspective. At first, I felt this way too. But, the longer I was in the heads of the other characters, the more I learned. I loved getting such different perspectives. I love seeing how different people learned to love and accept Auggie for who he was, instead of just what he looked like.
I think my favorite character of all was Auggie’s sister, Via. I felt so much empathy, love, and admiration for all that she went through. And again, I think that was point of this book: to feel empathy and to understand that not everyone has the same life, experiences, and understandings that I do. Via was just so kind and strong and independent. She was used to doing everything on her own, so her parents could focus more on her brother. Everything she went through with her friends who abandoned her and wanting to finally have a life separate from all that she was, resonated so strongly with me. I feel like I’ve been her.
Kids are so cruel. I felt for Auggie through all of it. Everything from the plague, the Halloween problem, the lunchroom, the reactions from strangers, and even the reactions form parents had me gasping in pain for him. I was literally at the edge of seat in terror at one particular moment during the camping trip.  The way he stuck through it, kept going, and made friends was really just inspiring. I loved his English teacher and the precepts –particularly the first one that says: “When given the choice between being right or being kind, choose kind.”
I loved the play. I loved his parents and watching them figure out what was best for everyone. I loved the principal. And I loved Auggie’s friends. There are just so many good things in this book. I could have dealt with not having the whole sad story of the dog, but that’s okay. The things anyone can take away from this book are countless. What a great book to teach acceptance, understanding, and love. I give this a 10/10. I’m so glad I finally read it.

1 comment:

  1. I have seen this book everywhere and on a lot of portals but it never really struck me to check what it was about. So i just randomly opened your post and ..... my GOD this book sounds amazing, maybe i'm the right time kind of person too because your review has moved me into getting to read this book soon. And i definitely will.

    Amazing review :)
    Aparajita @Le' Grande Codex