I just finished reading Wonder by R. J. Palacio and it has all the hallmarks of a modern classic. This will be a book that will be taught in schools for many years to come. As To Kill a Mockingbird talks about racism, Wonder talks about being bullied, all with the same childhood innocence.
August Pullman introduces himself thus:
I won’t describe what I look like. Whatever you’re thinking, it’s probably worse.
Wonder tells the story of August’s first year in a public school. I can’t recommend this book highly enough. And because my wife loves lists, I’m going to give you five reasons to read it.
- August Pullman is not easy on the eyes. I can name on one hand the books that feature an ugly protagonist, but I can name hundreds of real people who don’t fit into the “attractive” category (No, not you dear blog reader. Other people, obviously). That sets this book apart and encourages the reader to see life from the viewpoint of undesirability.
- We see August’s story unfold from multiple characters in order to understand him even more than he understands himself. When books provide multiple points of view, they usually do so to include subplots and adventures in which not all of the characters are involved. Wonder moves the plot between characters, but it is the same adventure. We get to see the feelings of each character as they interact with August.
- Though the message of the book is clear, it does not preach. If I feel that a book is written with an agenda in mind, I will probably not finish the book. Most books that have a message are unreadable because the author will give more importance to the message than to the characters or the plot. With Wonder, R. J. Palacio makes us fall in love with the characters, and out of this love is borne the message.
- By the end of the first chapter, you are rooting for August. Though the majority of the world will never have to experience the rejection and loathing that Auggie does, we can all relate in some way to his struggle. August feels real. Maybe because we’re all lending him a bit of our own self-loathing and we want to see him overcome it. Because if he can overcome his messed up face, maybe we can overcome our struggles.
- I honestly couldn’t guess how it was going to end. It was either going to be beautifully hopeful or beautifully tragic, and either one would have been good with me. But I’m not going to tell you how it ends, because you really need to read it for yourself.