Exploring Children’s Literature #2 – Wonder by R.J. Palacio

I’ve
really started to pick back up and get back on track with my blogging towards
the end of the year so I thought I’d round up the year with a review of my most
recent read: Wonder by R.J. Palacio. I thought I’d already read
this one, having made my way through quite a few YA fiction contributions, but
I had a bit of a surprise when I started ‘re-reading’ my copy so I could go and
see the film and found that it wasn’t what I was expecting at all. That said, I
really enjoyed reading Wonder and am happy to have added it to my list of books
I’ve enjoyed over the course of 2017.

Wonder is a story about a young boy who just doesn’t fit in
with the rest of his peers through absolutely no fault of his own. August, or
Auggie as he is affectionately referred to as, has a genetic condition that
means his face is deformed and countless surgeries haven’t been able to rectify
his difficulties. He lives his life just as any other child his age does,
except for the fact he can’t walk down the street without people staring and
pointing and acknowledging his every insecurity. His parents decide that, at
the ripe old age of 10, it is time for Auggie to go to a ‘real school’ and stop
his homeschooling, enrolling him in the local private school. He’s told to ‘try
it out’ and if he doesn’t like it, he can stop. But it’s really not as simple
as that.

Wonder is heartwarming and saddening in equal breaths. It
tells the tale of someone who was born to be different finally being allowed to
fit in but it also raises the question of why life and people are so fixated on
appearance over actual, genuine human qualities. Auggie, a caring, thoughtful
and funny child is isolated because he doesn’t LOOK the way that society
expects him to and Palacio highlights this issue in a thoughtful and thought
provoking way. It highlights how we are quick to judge before we get to know
someone and is inspiring in the sense that the good qualities in people are
exemplified.

I
loved the flip between characters’ perspectives, particularly the section
focusing on August’s sister, Via. It was interesting to hear the story from the
perspective of the character who was so loving and so caring towards her
brother, and yet acknowledge that it’s natural to feel resentful towards people
who you actually love. The section from Summer, one of August’s friends
perspectives was equally as lovely- when asked why she was friends with August,
she merely explains how she was taught to be kind and that August was funny and
caring. No ulterior motive, no nastiness underlying her intentions, just pure
and innocent kindness.



I’d
definitely recommend that this book is taught within UKS2 in schools- the
language is very accessible and the story definitely appeals to all types of backgrounds.
Even as an adult, I enjoyed the story and I can’t wait to go and see the film
after New Year with a good friend of mine!