Friday, 26 April 2013

Wonder by R. J. Palacio

Title: Wonder
Author: R.J.Palacio
Publisher: Corgi
Released: February 14th 2012
Pages: 315 (Paperback)
Buy: Amazon UK / Amazon US
Add on Goodreads

August (Auggie) Pullman was born with a facial deformity that prevented him from going to a mainstream school—until now. He's about to start 5th grade at Beecher Prep, and if you've ever been the new kid then you know how hard that can be. The thing is Auggie's just an ordinary kid, with an extraordinary face. But can he convince his new classmates that he's just like them, despite appearances?

Usually when asked to sum up a book in a few words, I can do it easily. But with Wonder, I am completely stumped - there are no words in the human language that could possibly describe has amazing - how wonderful - this novel was! There are no books out there quite like this - it is a unique, just like the main protagonist, August. This is a book that everyone must read at least once in their lifetime.

August has a facial disfigurement  Immediately I loved the novel because of this simple quote: 'I won't describe what I look like. Whatever you're thinking, it's probably worse.' and it's true! Throughout this book, Palacio sticks as close as possible to the brutal truth; the discrimination that people face if they look even a slightly bit different. I like to think that I'm quite an open-minded person, and that I take consideration from all sides of a story. This book made me realise that I can try to sympathise, but I don't truly know what it feels like to be so obviously outcast and set apart from everyone else. Some of the things August just absolutely broke my heart.

Although August is ten years old and this is typically labelled a children's book, it is aimed at all-ages. The language and sentence structure is incredibly advanced, yet the chapters are short and to-the-point. This is another thing I adore about it - this is a story meant to inspire all type's of people, not just one specific group.  I have read other books where author's attempt to use this writing style, and it just ends up very confusing and uninteresting. Palacio executed this perfectly - I was captured right from start to end, and then some.

Each of the main characters had amazing characterisation and were very well-developed. Each character whose POV we heard from signified a different reaction to August's medical abnormality - in each of them, I could find parts that I could heavily relate to. However, the character I most admired was August. Why? Because he was your average ten-year-old boy. He wasn't perfect, but he was funny and charming, very clever, and did just normal ten-year-old stuff. My little brother is eleven, and I could find connections between him and August easily - especially when it came to Star Wars! August's normality serves as a wake-up call to the reader - we sometimes subconsciously treat people with things such as this differently, but at the end of the day, he's just like you and me.

I found I could also relate to Via and Jack a lot. Myself and my brother have the same age gap as Via and August, so I could understand how overprotective she was of him. It tore me apart from August said that no-one thought he was ordinary, not even his sister, because "if I were ordinary  she wouldn't feel like she needs to protect me as much." Jack represented the reaction a lot of people - not just kids, but adults, too! - get when they see someone with an obvious disfigurement. He was symbolic of prejudice turning into acceptance and the realisation that this thing we were at first scared of is actually fine.

After reading this, I want to say that I'm a person that doesn't get that shocked look on their face that August has gotten used to - but I know I have, and what's worse is that I don't know how to change that. I will never stare at people, as that's just plain rude - but I know that if I see someone in a wheelchair, I will make a conscious effort to not look at them for too long and make them feel uncomfortable. Wonder made me realise that maybe this isn't a great reaction either, because I am still treating them as if they are different from others. I don't know how I can change this, but I want to. I hate the thought of other innocent people sitting out there, feeling separated from the rest of the world.

At the beginning of my review, I said three words. Three words to describe this book, and I think I've got them: brutal, captivating, eye-opening. Wonder is a book that makes you sit back and think - think about your life, your surroundings, and what kind of person you are. It is a book that everyone needs to read at least once in their lifetime, if not more. I borrowed it from the library, but I will definitely be buying my own copy. I'd like to leave you with one last quote before I end this review:
Everyone in the world should get a standing ovation at least once in their life because we all overcometh the world.
Rating: 5/5

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