WONDER tells the story of August (Auggie) Pullman, a boy who was born with a severe facial abnormality, because of which he had been homeschooled for his entire childhood. As Auggie himself bluntly puts it, "I won't describe what I look like. Whatever you're thinking, it's probably worse." The readers meet Auggie at a very significant time-his first time starting school with other students, entering the fifth grade at Beecher Prep in New York City. Auggie, at times naive (asking his mother "What's a lamb to the slaughter?") but other times keenly observant ("They think I don't know they're staring, but I can tell from the way their heads are tilted.") is a good-hearted kid thrust into an intimidating new environment. The story of Auggie's introduction to middle school is told through several different characters' points of view: Auggie himself; his older sister, Via, and her boyfriend Justin; family friend Miranda; and Auggie's classmates, Summer and Jack. Author R.J. Palacio has created extremely believable characters, whose spoken and inner dialogue seem natural for kids of their age. These characters give the reader their varying reactions to Auggie's appearance, how his relationship affects them, and their differing perspectives on the same key incidents in the book. WONDER is not only a story of how Auggie learns and grows through his time at school, but also what others learn from him, and how meeting or being close to such a unique person changes them, sometimes tests their moral fabric, and causes them to examine their own self-image as a result. This all sounds like very heavy stuff, but it is written with joy and youthful humor, and because it is told from the point of view of young people, it feels honest and unpretentious. The book was written for young adults, but it can be enjoyed by people of all ages. For those readers who are no longer school-age, it reminds us all of how frightening and strange and yet wonderful it was to be a kid growing up, figuring out who your true friends are and more importantly, who you are. I particularly loved the excerpts of songs and literature that began each new section, setting the tone for that person's upcoming perspective. Also very moving was the English class's ongoing project of discussing "Mr. Brown's precepts," philosophies of life which make the kids consider their own core beliefs and values. In the end of the book, the reader will enjoy reading the "postcard precepts" that the students come up with themselves. Thoroughly enjoyable, WONDER is a tender and moving book that you'll want to share with everyone you know.
Born with a facial deformity that initially prevented his attendance at public school, Auggie Pullman enters the fifth grade at Beecher Prep and struggles with the dynamics of being both new and different, in a sparsely written tale about acceptance and self-esteem.