The young adult novel, Wonder by RJ Palacio is truly a story that should be read by all ages and I am so glad I rose above the “young adult” categorization. The story centers on 5th grader, August Pullman, who was born with severe craniofacial deformities. Auggie, as he is called by his family and friends, has grown up self-assured and loved but also fiercely protected due to the stares and comments made whenever he goes outside.
Previously home-schooled, Auggie’s parents make the decision that he should attend a private school near their home in Upper Manhattan. With the start of school, Auggie is thrown into a new universe of challenges and triumphs.
With different chapters told in the voice of Auggie, his sister (Via), his friends Jack and Summer, even his arch enemy Julian, you get varying views but an overall perspective of what it’s like being a tween/teen in today’s society with the the additional stress of dealing with a physical abnormality. What I appreciated most was that the story was never told in a saccharine way which I feared and have come to expect from certain YA novels. The novel explored the good in the bad. It reminded me of the importance of looking beyond the external to see the beauty within a person.
As I read the book, I thought about my tween niece who read the book before me and wondered what she took away from the story. I recalled being touched by the movie Mask in my youth. I can hardly recall the story line of Mask (the one with Cher and Eric Stoltz), but recall being moved by his plight and desire for acceptance and felt an empathy for Rocky that felt similar to Auggie. Luckily, Wonder had a more positive ending than Mask, and would highly recommend it to any tween, teen or adult.