Thursday 5 June 2014

Review: Wonder by RJ Palacio

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

August (Auggie) Pullman was born with a facial deformity that prevented him from going to a mainstream school—until now. He's about to start 5th grade at Beecher Prep, and if you've ever been the new kid then you know how hard that can be. The thing is Auggie's just an ordinary kid, with an extraordinary face. But can he convince his new classmates that he's just like them, despite appearances?

R. J. Palacio has written a spare, warm, uplifting story that will have readers laughing one minute and wiping away tears the next. With wonderfully realistic family interactions (flawed, but loving), lively school scenes, and short chapters, Wonder is accessible to readers of all levels.

Review: wow, I literally could not stop reading this book, unputdownable is a complete understatement. I actually started reading this with a group of children at school and then I made sure we all had a copy so we could all finish it over the holidays. The short chapters, the mystery behind what August really looks like, the situation with him  and his school had us all completely mesmerised and desperate to carry on reading it. 

Firstly, I loved the character development in this book. It's not just August who grows and learns over the course of the novel. This book is written from several points of view and all the other characters grow and change and I love that about the story. The point of view who we don't hear from is the one belonging to any adult. There are no teacher chapters or parent chapters, this is told entirely from the children's perspective, which I think is brave but brilliant! I particularly enjoyed seeing august's sister Via change over the course of the novel, the kids I was reading with agreed that intiallly she seems passive aggressive but that we do feel sorry for her having to deal with all she deals with, she really blossoms in this novel and the way she deals with her own problems in truly admirable! 

I loved the idea that whatever August has is an entirely new thing, it means that no one has the exact condition he has and so there's no risk of offending people with one of the conditions he has because he is completely unique, and indeed the novel teaches that it is completely ok to be unique, this is strong message throughout the whole book. I loved August sense of humour as well, we know that he sees himself as normal and why should no one else, but we see that he copes with the way he looks and the way he is different from everyone else with humour and courage and yet he can completely empathise with others, despite his being so completely unique! 

There are some very funny bits in this novel, it's not all moral lessons, there is a storyline and humour, action which will leave you breathless, and real life. Anyone starting a new school or a new situation will be able to identify with August and his fears, Via too! This also teaches a powerful lesson about friendship and bullying which is why I decided to read it at school, it is beautifully written too which also comes in handy at school but which adds to the fact that this book is completely addictive. Having just finished this book. I know that this is something I will want to reread again and again! 

As you can see from the beautiful picture in this post, I have the special edition copy of the novel which has some bonus material in the back. This includes some interesting discussion questions, information about the author and some fan reactions to the book and to August. It was well worth the extra money for this edition, and let's face it, the cover is lovely too! 

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