Thursday, December 6, 2012

Book Review -- Wonder

WonderWonder by R.J. Palacio
My enjoyment rating: 4 of 5 stars
Source:  Personal copy
Genre: Juvenile Fiction
Objectionable material: None

Born with severe facial birth defects, August Pullman (Auggie), must for the first time face, what’s tough for even typical kids, the rigors of public school.

He is taunted and teased, jeered and ignored – he is the one all other 5th graders consider to have the “plague” because of his deformities.

But among the cruelty, there are a few points of light – his friends Jack and Summer, his parents, his sister Via, and his dog, Daisy.

Auggie has every reason to give up on school – and life – but through the eyes of author, RJ Palacio, we see Auggie for what he really is – a truly WONDER of a little boy.

This was a remarkable novel about how the viciousness of school aged kids is directed at one student, and how kindness from a few, brings hope to all.

There were several remarkable aspects to this novel: Auggie’s determination, his relationship with his parents, the resiliency of a few friends, the support of teachers – even the love of his dog. Auggie’s plight was visceral and real.

However, the one aspect of the novel I really struggled with was the age of these students: purported to be 5th graders in “middle school,” the dialog and scheming of the students involved really felt like kids in 7th or 8th grade. As a mother of a 5th grader – a kid like Auggie going to our school (K-5) might be looked at funny – and whispered about – and certainly experience unkindness (unfortunately) -- but the lengths at which some of the kids go to isolate and berate Auggie seem out of line with the social maturity (or lack thereof) of a 5th grader. Also, at the end of the novel, Auggie’s friend Jack makes the comment, “When did Summer get so Hot?” Yeah…my 5th grader has no clue about girls – the only thing he thinks is HOT is the new football he’s playing with on the playground.

Aside from that, Wonder is exactly what it says…a wonder.


Laura at Library of Clean Reads said...

I have read similar reviews about WONDER. Regarding the behaviour of the fifth graders, I think it depends on where they live. Are they from a big city like NY or from a relatively small town? Some kids are more in the know-how even at a young age. My kid are more like yours.

alisonwonderland said...

Nice review. I need to read this one!

melissa @ 1lbr said...

Hm, I hadn't thought about that aspect, since I don't have 5th graders around me much :) But, I think Laura is right, there are definitely different levels of savvy when it comes to kids that age. Let's continue to hope kids don't generally take that kind of isolation to that level at so young an age. :(