Sunday, 6 September 2015

Review: 'Wonder' By R.J. Palacio

This was without a doubt one of the most inspiring and heart-warming books I've ever read. I would like to preface my review by stating that, although this book is a middle-grade novel and is intended for younger readers, this book touched my heart in ways unimaginable and I believe it's a book that people of all ages can relate to and love.

'Wonder' tells the story of August Pullman, an ordinary boy with an extraordinary face. After being homeschooled for his whole life by his protective parents, August is shocked when his mother suddenly decides to enrol him in a normal middle-school. Fearful of how people will react to his face August is reluctant to start leading a normal life, however, when the school year starts August realises the world has a lot to offer and he begins to embrace his new life. August's story is told from six different points of view, and I found this to be a really interesting way to tell his story as it allows the reader to see how August has affected the lives of those around him in a really touching way. This is honestly one of the most well-written books I have read in a very long time.

August was one of the most endearing characters I've ever come across in all my years of reading. It was impossible not to love him and see his bravery shine through. Despite his facial anomaly being the thing that August characterises himself by, as the reader you see him for so much more than his face; you see his bravery, his intelligence, his humour, his kindness to others when others aren't necessarily so kind to him. August is, without a doubt, such an admirable character, there are bits in this book when the other kids are being so cruel and yet, although being given the choice to leave school, he stays and wins the affection of all the people at his school. I will remember August Pullman for a very very long time.

This book also takes us into the minds of Summer and Jack, August's school friends; both of whom I found to be very likeable and admirable characters. Despite the pressure being put on them to isolate Auggie, and becoming the subjects of bullying themselves for being friends with him, these two never give up on their friendship with Auggie seeing him as a person rather than just his face. I loved how the author never once undermined how difficult it was for Jack and Summer and highlighted the treatment they were given based on their friendships with Auggie.

The author also told August's story from Via's (August's sister), Justin's (Via's boyfriend) and Miranda's (Via's childhood best friend) perspectives. Via's point of view was particularly interesting as we see how difficult it is to be the sibling of a child with an illness or disability. Justin and Miranda were also interesting perspectives.

I found myself getting extremely emotional at certain parts of this book, not always out of sadness but a lot of the time out of happiness. Every time Auggie gained a new friend it was a triumph, every time someone understood him a little bit better it was a miracle, when he was finally seen for HIM rather than his face... there are no words. R.J. Palacio captures your heart from the first page and pulls on its strings till the very last one.

I loved this book, it's one of my favourites that I've read this year and if you haven't read it I urge you to go and buy it now and get started!

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