Wonder by R.J. Palacio
(Summary taken from the inside book jacket) "August (Auggie) Pullman was born with a facial deformity that prevented him from going to a mainstream school--until now. He's about to enter fifth grade at Beecher Prep, and if you've ever been the new kid, then you know how hard that can be. The thing is Auggie's just an ordinary kid, with an extraordinary face. But can he convince his new classmates that he's just like them, despite appearances?"
My friend recommended this book to me. She teaches fifth grade at the local school, and my son will be in her class next year. She just went on and on about how much she loved this book. I convinced my book group to read it this month so I knew I would make time for it. My friend was right.....this is an amazing book! I loved it! I love Ms. Palacio's writing style. It is easy to read, flows well, and the characters' voices are very individualized and personal. Her character development is wonderful. Auggie is such a great character. He is so strong, yet so real. You see his brave and not-so-brave moments, and he has such a positive attitude. I felt for Auggie's parents as well. What a tough decision it would be to send him to school. Jack, Summer, and Via were all characters that had their tough moments, but shone through in the end. There was also some humor in the book that helped take away some of the tension and heavier moments. This book is full of morals and teaching moments. It's amazing. Bullying, friendship, loving despite differences, words do hurt, standing up for friends, no matter how hard your life is--there is always someone who has it harder, and having a positive attitude are just a few of them. EVERY fifth grade student should read this book!!! It should be available in every fifth grade classroom (in my humble opinion). The lessons the kids in the book learned will stay with them forever. If more people acted like them (them at the end of the book....not the beginning) the world would be a different place.
The chapter written from Via's boyfriend's point of view drove me crazy. There were no capital letters. Fortunately, his words and actions made up for it. The side story of Via and her friend Miranda didn't really need to be in the book, but I guess it just showed Miranda's love for Auggie never died, and that deep down Miranda never really changed. I can't remember any language in the book. There are some scenes that are a little violent with fights, mean words, and bullies. This would be a great book to read with your kids or students. It could be the start of some great discussions and projects. I highly recommend this book!
Rating: PG (Minor violence with fights, mean words, and bullies)
Recommendation: Fifth grade and up (about 10 years-old)