by R.J. Palacio
320 must read pages full of challenges that could help you decide what kind of person you want to be
August (Auggie) Pullman is about to start 5th grade. The first unusual thing about that is up until then he has been home schooled. The second unusual thing is that Auggie was born with mandibulfacial dysostosis. This means he has no outer ears and it looks as if the rest of his facial features have been melted off. After 27 surgeries it seems as though he is strong enough and ready for a new step. Is he? He’s used to being looked at, but not looked at. He’s used to being called Freak or Freddie Kruger or Gross-out. He’s used to people averting their eyes when they see him. Up until now when that happens he can leave. That won’t be the case in school. He knows what he looks like on the outside but on the inside he’s pretty ordinary. He’s a Star Wars fan. He loves his x-box. He decides to give Beecher Prep a try and courageously goes off to middle school – like “a lamb to the slaughter” as his father says.
Auggie is smart, funny, thoughtful and brave. He tells his story of that year, with all its ups and downs. Mr. Brown his English teacher asks them to consider various precepts – one each month. He calls them “rules about really important things.” The first one is: “When given the choice between being right or being kind, choose kind.” —Dr. Wayne Dyer Auggie thinks he is going to like Mr. Brown. (I know I do!) The other important characters in Auggie’s life tell their side of the story too. His sister, Via, just starting high school, explains what its like to have Auggie in her life. Jack and Summer, the kids he thinks are his friends – one who was asked to befriend him and one who just feels it is the right thing (after all who wants to sit in the cafeteria alone) share their relationships with him. Miranda, Via’s old friend and Julian, her new boyfriend, also explain tell what it is like to have Auggie in their lives. Middle school is hard. Everyone wants to fit in and melt into a pool of sameness while being importantly different. Auggie is definitely that in so many more ways than his appearance.
What an amazingly thought-provoking book. Visit the Wonder book site for more thoughts and connections. I hope everyone reads Wonder and thoughtfully chooses how to be true, steadfast and kind – in fact “ always be more kind than necessary.” J.M. Barrie