Wonder is the story of August Pullman, a 10-year-old boy about to enter fifth grade. This may not seem so remarkable until you find out that he has never been to school before. Auggie, as he is known, was born with a rare genetic syndrome which caused severe facial deformities, among other issues, and which has already required twenty-seven surgeries.
Even before the school year begins, Auggie’s mother takes him to visit the school, where the principal has arranged for a trio of fellow students to meet him and show him around. Although Auggie takes to one of the boys in this group, his best friend that year turns out to be Summer, a girl in his class who invites him to sit with her in the lunchroom and seems completely unaffected by the difference in his appearance.
About half of the book is narrated by Auggie himself, with viewpoints from several other characters interspersed with his account of his first official year at school. Auggie has a remarkable family, with loving and connected parents and a protective older sister.
Via, his sister, is entering high school and, although she has always understood that Auggie’s special needs took precedence, she is reaching a point where she needs some parental attention of her own. Her best friends seem to have pulled away from her, so she is left to navigate the new territory of high school on her own.
In Wonder, R.J. Palacio moves smoothly between the world of fifth grade and the dynamics of high school, showing us how everyone faces their own trials of character as they move through childhood and adolescence. I found myself pulled further into the story with each narrator and appreciated how the different perspectives added depth while also moving the story along.
While this book is definitely suitable for middle grade students, it will also appeal to high school readers and even to adults. I highly recommend it.
Trish thanks Random House and NetGalley for the opportunity to review this book. You can find her blogging at In So Many Words.