Review Detail

Wonder Featured
Kids Fiction 2399
Truly Wonderous
Overall rating 
 
4.5
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
5.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
4.0

Aiming on the younger end of the Middle Grade spectrum, Wonder is the story of a disfigured 5th grader named August, and his transition from homeschooling into the public school system.

On the surface, it may seem like just another learning-to-accept-differences theme. But the book has far more than that to offer. Yes, August’s life is the focalpoint, but we are also given the first-person perspectives of numerous other young people whose lives are impacted by Auggie and his struggles. Additional viewpoints include Auggie’s loving older sister Via—who often feels neglected by their parents, but tries not to resent their worry over her brother; His sister’s ex-best friend Miranda, who has always adored August and his family, but has lost herself in the new high school social strata; Summer, the first kid in Auggie’s grade to willingly sit by him at lunch in spite of social pressures; and Jack, a boy in Auggie’s class who was assigned to be a sort of good will ambassador for him, but who succumbs to the whims of a socially devious bully.

The prose is very simple, but appropriate to the target audience. The problems presented aren’t as simple, and neither are character motivations. All of our viewpoint characters are flawed—even Auggie, whose inward focus and past disappointment sometimes leaves him misjudging people’s intentions. And while Auggie and Via’s parents are wonderfully functional and deeply caring people, even they are perfectly imperfect—at odds with each other’s judgement of what’s best for Auggie and miscalculating how well their older daughter is coping with her own transition.
After about the halfway point the pacing started to feel a bit drawn-out, but the rapid shifting of viewpoints remedied some of this.

What really made this book for me was the realistic air of the ringleader antagonist, Julian. Julian is the kind of bully who never gets caught, because overt violence isn’t his tool of choice. Sporting sociopathic traits (and overindulgent parents who encourage and defend said traits), Julian flexes his power behind the social scenes—manipulating all weaker personalities around him into doing his bidding, isolating and intimidating any who resist. He makes Auggie’s life miserable through strategic use of rumors, anonymous notes, and social vendettas. (Anyone who thinks this sounds too clever and complicated a feat for a MG villain didn’t go to my middle school. Just be grateful you missed out on that particular joy. >.>)

Note: On a personal level, I have to admit I can’t be completely objective in my experience with this book. I selected it for two reasons. One, so that my own grade school children could be exposed to a quality, empathy-building story that would put them in the shoes of someone who has to live with being stared at and singled out for maltreatment. And two, because I had a friend in early grade school who had a facial disfigurement (severe cleft pallet/speech impediment/glass eye), and I wanted to see how true-to-life Auggie’s experiences might compare to what I saw with my friend.
On both counts, I’m satisfied with this book.
My 9-year-old son connected with Auggie on every level, and I loved the conversations this opened up between us. And while Auggie’s experiences realistically portray just how terrible kids can treat each other, his is ultimately a tale of hope, growth, and triumph. (Sadly, I didn’t see the same results for my elementary school friend. I wish this book had existed when we were still children.)

I do wish there’d been a bit more exploration of the medical side of Auggie’s condition. But as August has reached a stable point after a myriad of corrective surgeries, it’s understandable this wouldn’t really come into play for this book.
Report this review Was this review helpful to you? 0 0

Comments

Already have an account? or Create an account
Powered by JReviews

FEATURED GIVEAWAYS

Latest Book Listings Added

Fisher- Price Fun in the Jungle: Explore, Touch, and Feel
 
4.5
 
0.0 (0)
Children will love exploring the different textures in this playful...
Glitter Globes: The Night Before Christmas
 
4.5
 
0.0 (0)
On the night before Christmas, all over the house, not...
Belinda Fellgate: HellCat
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
A contemporary teen fantasy about an inept 14-year-old girl who...
Breathless
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
From Jennifer Niven, the #1 New York Times bestselling author...
Music for Tigers
 
3.7
 
0.0 (0)
Shipped halfway around the world to spend the summer...
Skyhunter (Skyhunter, #1)
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
A broken world. An overwhelming evil. ...
Kingdom of Ice and Bone (The Frozen Sun Saga, #2)
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
Lira and Reyker have lost everything. Including each other....
Sword of the Seven Sins
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Eva Marteinn never wanted to be a killer. Raised...
Things That Should Stay Buried
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Some destinies are written in the stars. Others must...
How It All Blew Up
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda goes to Italy...
Horrid
 
4.3
 
0.0 (0)
From the author of You Must Not Miss comes...
Tsalix Silverthorn and the Scepter of Destiny
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
The latest phenomenal work from New York Times Bestselling author...

Latest Member Reviews

Indestructibles: Big and Little: A Book of Opposites
 
5.0
"BIG AND LITTLE: A BOOK OF OPPOSITES is a great book for introducing the concept of opposites to babies. The..."
Indestructibles: All Year Round: A Book of Seasons
 
5.0
"ALL YEAR ROUND: A BOOK OF SEASONS is a delightfully simple book that presents the seasons. Targeted towards infants and..."
The Thing About Bees: A Love Letter
 
5.0
"THE THING ABOUT BEES: A LOVE LETTER is an informative and gorgeously illustrated picture book about bees. The book describes..."
Hans Christian Andersen: The Journey of His Life
 
4.7
"Like most other people, I grew up devouring Hans Christian Andersen’s stories. His fairy tales are the first stories I..."
Paint by Sticker Kids: Dinosaurs: Create 10 Pictures One Sticker at a Time!
 
5.0
"PAINT BY STICKER KIDS: DINOSAURS is a really delightful creative journey. The book features ten dinosaurs which children can paint..."
A World of Opposites
 
4.3
"A WORLD OF OPPOSITES is a beautiful book of photography from around the world with a focus on opposites. Each..."
Baby Up, Baby Down: A First Book of Opposites
 
4.7
"BABY UP, BABY DOWN is an adorable board book that teaches some basic opposites. Each page features a baby with..."
Star-Spangled: The Story of a Flag, a Battle, and the American Anthem
 
4.3
"The War of 1812 isn't one that really captures the imagination of young readers like the Revolutionary or Civil War..."
 
4.0
"NASA and the US space program are a direct result of the increases in aeronautical technology due to World War..."
Thurgood Marshall
 
5.0
"Born in 1908, Thurgood Marshall experienced an array of institutionalized racial injustices in his New York and Baltimore homes, even..."
Down Under the Pier
 
4.3
"DOWN UNDER THE PIER is a beautifully illustrated poem about the magic that happens, not only above, but also below..."
 
4.0
"Super Cute Illustrations I wasn't expecting a board book when I first saw this, but as soon as I..."
 
5.0
"Girls and women have run for a long time; even the author Louisa May Alcott made distance running part of..."
Helen Keller: The World at Her Fingertips
 
5.0
"Born in 1880, Helen Keller is famous for her persistent nature, but since she died over sixty years ago, she..."
World of Glass: The Art of Dale Chihuly
 
4.7
"This book is a great overview for fans and newcomers alike. The first three chapters cover Chihuly's childhood, college, and..."
Thomas Edison: Lighting the Way
 
5.0
"'Thomas Edison: Lighting the Way,' an I Can Read book by Lori Haskins Houran, illustrated by Gustavo Mazali, is a..."
Literally: Amazing Words and Where They Come From
 
5.0
"'Literally: Amazing Words and Where They Come From' by Patrick Skipworth, illustrated by Nicholas Stevenson, is a creative book that..."
Personalized Notebook Doodles Adorable Pets Coloring Book
 
5.0
"ADORABLE PETS is full of quotes and pictures about animals. As the title suggests, the pictures are so cute and..."
The Speed of Starlight: An Exploration of Physics, Sound, Light, and Space
 
5.0
"Seriously, this book is huge and gorgeous on a creative level, and a treasure trove of knowledge on an academic..."
1,000 Facts About Ancient Egypt
 
5.0
"1,000 Facts about Ancient Egypt is a National Geographic KIDS book chock full of amazing facts about one of the..."