August Pullman was born with a facial difference that, up until now, has prevented him from going to a mainstream school. Starting 5th grade at Beecher Prep, he wants nothing more than to be treated as an ordinary kid—but his new classmates can’t get past Auggie’s extraordinary face. WONDER, now a #1 New York Times bestseller and included on the Texas Bluebonnet Award master list, begins from Auggie’s point of view, but soon switches to include his classmates, his sister, her boyfriend, and others. These perspectives converge in a portrait of one community’s struggle with empathy, compassion, and acceptance.
Precept: Knowing is not enough; we must act. Willing is not enough; we must do. ~ Goethe.
That’s my precept, not Auggie’s, because if it were Auggie’s precept, it would probably be much better.
August (Auggie) Pullman is a ten-year-old boy slated for fifth grade. He is smart. He is loving. He is compassionate. He has true, honest-to-goodness love inside of him. He is brave. And he has a facial deformity that would make most grown-ups cry. Frankly, August Pullman is my hero.
August has been home-schooled until now. His mother, father, and sister have done an incredible job. Not only have they taught him about every school subject you can imagine for a kid his age, but they have also taught him humor, compassion, and the reality of true love, loyalty, and friendship.
August has a craniofacial disorder that resembles the famed “Elephant Man” John Merrick. In fact, August’s disfigurement might be worse. As a youngster, he wears a helmet – everywhere. He loves his helmet because people can’t see his face. He can be himself inside the security confines of the mask. In fact, he loves Halloween because he can hide his appearance. Cool, until he has to go to a real school, with real people, and real kids his own age. A fluke incidence has August dressing up as a character other than the one he promised he was coming as that day. Only a few kids have befriended him, so when no one knows his identity, the words he overhears from those who claim to be his friend are heartbreaking.
This story is written in first person and could not be more real. I’ll admit, I should have read this story in 2012 when it first came out, and I have no excuse as to why I didn’t, but all the accolades it has received since its debut are true. This is one of the best middle-grade stories ever told! There are so many good/mediocre/okay books on the market today, that we as readers tend to pick out the best of what we are offered. But this one – WONDER by R.J. Palacio – is totally different. It soars somewhere above the clouds.
As a book reviewer, my question to you is simple today, and your age does not matter: Do you want to be a better person? Do you want to know how? Truly, just answer the question. If you answered “Yes” then your first step is to read this book. Once in a blue moon, a book comes along that can change someone’s feelings and outlook on life, and this is one of those rare books. So, do you truly want to be a better person? Only read this book if you mean it, because it will settle deep inside of you and it will change you.
And if not, it’s okay. Author R.J Palacio has written such an impactive and moving story that I venture to say even I will never be the same after reading it. And I am so grateful.