Wonder | Book Review

by - 1/23/2015

First of all, let me just say that this whole reading goal has lit a fire under me and I've already read 5 books just this month! I'll have some more reviews coming soon, but first - let's start with Wonder.

If you're unfamiliar with the book, here's the blurb 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."


Ashley's rating: 1/2

I absolutely loved this book. I couldn't put it down! I laughed, I cried - it was excellent. It was fascinating to read this story, especially from the 6 different points of view. I thought it was well-told and I truly came away thinking about the importance of being kind to everyone no matter what. As for the different narrators, Auggie's point of view was probably my favorite. Even though he was "different" on the outside, being inside his mind was especially captivating because all he really wanted was to fit in. This is something I think everyone struggles with at some point in their lives, and reading his thoughts made him so relate-able and all the more lovable to me.   

Aside from Auggie, his sister Via's point of view was the one I enjoyed the most. It was almost like Via had to endure as much of the looks and whispers as Auggie did, having grown up with him her whole life. I loved how she was real about her feelings on it being difficult for her sometimes. That was a great perspective and really added a lot of depth to the story, I think. Plus, the love she has for Auggie is so sweet and wonderful.

***[Some slight spoilers ahead, about the overall feeling at the end. If you haven't read it yet and hate any sort of spoilers, you may want to stop here. Just know I LOVED the book and highly recommend it!]***

The only reason I couldn't bring myself to give this book 5 stars is I think it ended almost too perfectly - and I'm even a lover of perfect endings! I love them perhaps more than most. But the ending to this book surprised me a bit. It just wasn't as emotionally charged as I thought it would be, given the premise of the book. When I put it down, it was almost like Auggie's story was "over". I don't know what exactly I was expecting, but I can tell you I certainly was not anticipating a "happily ever after" feeling, especially since I would imagine he'd endure many more difficulties going forward. 

I think Palacio possibly chose this ending to convey that if you take the time to get to know someone, rather than so readily judging them, you can be changed for the better. However, while I loved this message and the glimpse into Auggie's life, I thought some of the characters were too easily changed... Maybe I'm just pessimistic, but that was a little unbelievable to me. I actually really liked it, but it just surprised me, I guess. But people can surprise us and be better than we think, so maybe that's something else Palacio was trying to say.

***[Okay, major spoilers comin up - mainly about "The Julian Chapter".]***

The copy I purchased from Target also included "The Julian Chapter" at the end. After reading the ending of Wonder, I was a bit skeptical to read Julian's story, to be honest. I wasn't sure it would add much. However, I did read it, and getting inside Julian's turned out to be very interesting. It was a great addition. I thought the nightmares put a very intriguing insight into why he was so mean.  But while I do think that everyone has the power to change, I had a hard time believing that even the bully could change that quickly. I mean, just a few weeks? I would have found it more believable had it taken him a few years. And his mom's sudden miraculous turn-around, too? I'm sorry, but that was not believable at all. While I actually really enjoyed this addition overall, especially the Torteau story, it was again almost too easy and perfect for me. 

Lest you think I didn't like the book, let me just reiterate that I absolutely l o v e d it and it will definitely be one I'll read over and over again. With or without the "perfect" ending, it really is an excellent book, written very well. It has a wonderful, powerful message - a message of kindness - that I think everyone can learn from and work on. If we can all come away from reading this with the desire to be more kind, that alone makes it a book worth reading. 

Happy Friday!

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