Wonder-Ful Read: Review of R.J. Palacio's Novel Wonder Posted on 6 Feb 15:59


“The universe was not kind to Auggie Pullman.” Or was it? R.J. Palacio’s young adult book Wonder introduces readers to endearing 10-year-old Auggie who suffers from facial abnormalities because of unkind genetics. His deformity is so bad that 27 surgeries can’t erase it. His face provokes kids to ask if he was in a fire or if he is a zombie, or to scream and run away. Auggie’s non-description of his face is no less harrowing, albeit vague: “I won’t describewhat I look like. Whatever you’re thinking, it’s probably worse.”

When Auggie’s brilliant and remarkably supportive parents suggest that he participate in the 5th grade rather than continue homeschooling, he’s terrified. Horrified. But Ramona has nothing on Auggie Pullman the Brave, who forges ahead at Beecher Prep Middle School. His fears weren’t ill-founded. Kids are downright cruel to him at times. But Auggie’s resilience is copious—it’s inspiring. While Auggie has to carve his own path, one riddled with unique difficulties, he’s fortunate to experience a palpable closeness with his family that is ultimately a transformative force for good. He also finds out you can get through middle school without hurting anyone’s feelings, that’s really cool beans.

This is the sort of enchanting book that isn’t action-packed per se, but it’s soulful. As you follow Auggie through the halls of Beecher Prep and experience his highs and lows, you’ll catch yourself feeling deeply for him. (I cried more than once and books seldom make me weep.) In fact, you’ll begin to wonder if kindness isn’t the most important practice of all—not because of schmaltzy prose or crazy sentimentality, but because of a prolific boy who possesses more courage and kindness behind his ill-placed eyes than most others. “Maybe the universe does take care of its most fragile creations in ways we can’t see.”