by R.J. Palacio

Overview: I won't describe what I look like. Whatever you're thinking, it's probably worse.

August Pullman was born with a facial deformity that, up until now, has prevented him from going to a mainstream school. Starting 5th grade at Beecher Prep, he wants nothing more than to be treated as an ordinary kid—but his new classmates can't get past Auggie's extraordinary face. WONDER, now a #1 New York Times bestseller and included on the Texas Bluebonnet Award master list, begins from Auggie's point of view, but soon switches to include his classmates, his sister, her boyfriend, and others. These perspectives converge in a portrait of one community's struggle with empathy, compassion, and acceptance.

"Wonder is the best kids' book of the year," said Emily Bazelon, senior editor at Slate.com and author of Sticks and Stones: Defeating the Culture of Bullying and Rediscovering the Power of Character and Empathy. In a world where bullying among young people is an epidemic, this is a refreshing new narrative full of heart and hope. R.J. Palacio has called her debut novel "a meditation on kindness" —indeed, every reader will come away with a greater appreciation for the simple courage of friendship. Auggie is a hero to root for, a diamond in the rough who proves that you can't blend in when you were born to stand out.

Dale Israel (12/15/17): What a WONDERful little book! This was a quick easy read about a young boy who was born with severe birth defects that were quite disfiguring. It was narrarated from various people's perspective which made it very interesting. I only wish the mother's and father's point of view had been included. Did they feel guilty? How did they cope having a child with so many psychological and physical issues? This was a 'feel good' kind of book...very impressive for a first time author. Now, I will go and see the movie which is currently playing at a theater near me!
Rating: ****

Gail Reid (08/16/14): Let me start by saying that I don't normally read Young Adult (YA) fiction but having just finished "Wonder" by R.J. Palacio, I may look for more!

Wonder is the story of August (Auggie) Pullman, a 5th grader with such severe facial abnormalities, that he has worn an astronaut helmet for 2 years to hide from the world. When Auggie's parents decide that it is time to replace homeschooling with middle school, Auggie is forced to venture into the mainstream and all the challenges that pre-teens face.

Each chapter is told from the point of view of a wide range of characters: Auggie, a highly intelligent, insightful kid with a great sense of humor and self-understanding well beyond his years; his few friends who are polarized because the mean kids at school want nothing to do with a "freak"; the principal Mr.Tushman whose 20 years as a middle school director lends much wisdom to dealing with children and parents; and Olivia (known as Via at home) who knows why her parents must sometimes ignore her but wants and needs their attention as well.

A miracle does not come along in which Auggie's dozens of surgeries finally result in a handsome young face. However, there are plenty of other miracles in this "wonder"ful read.
Rating: *****

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