Wonder is a book about growing up, but it’s not a normal coming of age novel. The main character, August Pullman, is 10 years old and his face is severely disfigured. Palacio brings us into the novel through Auggie’s own voice and drags the reader straight into his word; not by having the boy describe his own face but instead to say, “Whatever you’re thinking, it’s probably worse.” He explains that he has gone through 27 surgeries and people are town don’t exactly look at him like a normal child.
The main plot of the story begins when Auggie’s parents, Nate and Isabel, decide to sign him up for Beecher Prep middle school. Auggie has always been home-schooled because of his many medical problems but his parents believe that it is time for him to face the world and begin to understand what it’ll be like to grow up in that world. Auggie is terrified of the idea but reasoning with his parents does not work. He finds the courage to attend school and he finds that he ends up liking it much more than he expected. It isn’t some bright and flowery world that Palacio writes though; there are children who make fun of him behind his back and mean games called the plague where children catch a disease if they touch Auggie.
Not everyone is making fun of Auggie though. He makes two close friends named Summer and Jack even though it comes with a few trials. Summer likes Auggie from the beginning but things go wrong with Jack when Auggie finds out that Jack was assigned to be his friend at the beginning of the school year. Eventually they patch up the problem and Auggie has two true allies. They also find out that Julian has been the main cause of the mean comments and games directed at Auggie and a final confrontation happens toward the end of the year. After a confrontation with a group of boys from a different school though, Auggie finds out that the boys who were previously mean to him don’t mean him any actual harm. His “enemies” from his own school defend him from the boys who meant to physically harm him from another essentially breaking the rift between the two groups and helping Auggie to finally fully fit in at his new school.
I had heard a lot about Wonder and I am happy that I was in no way disappointed. The book had such a beautiful outlook on life that it was impossible to put down. Auggie’s family was warm, supporting, and humorous; they make a terrible situation into something more lighthearted because of the love they have for their son. R.J. Palacio writes beautifully and finds a way to capture the voices of fifth graders so effectively it does not seem possible that this book was written by an adult. It is nice to read about a boy who is special, different, maybe even scary at times, but still find that there are people can see him just as any other ordinary boy.
Auggie is a book for young children but I recommend it as a read for all ages. It lifts the spirit and teaches everyone a valuable lesson about people who look different on the outside but who are the same as the rest of us on the inside.