I’ve celebrated R.J. Palacio’s Wonder before- twice actually.
The official description reads as follows: “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 New York Times bestseller, 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.
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.”
Wonder is a feel good story without being saccharine. Knowing it’s aimed for middle-graders, certain things were bound to happen to make the young readers happy. Although, I’m glad they didn’t go too dark because this is a rather heavy story as is- in terms of subject matter.
Full of memorable characters and some great featured quotes.
“Greatness lies, not in being strong, but in the right using of strength…. He is the greatest whose strength carries up the most hearts by the attraction of his own.”- Henry Ward Beecher
“Try to be a little kinder than is necessary.” J.M. Barrie
In The Julian Chapter, released individually as a separate story and included in the Special Edition of Wonder, readers get to discover the antagonist’s point of view. While not necessary, it was at least nice and interesting. It was also a good reminder that everyone is going through unknowable stuff so we shouldn’t be quick to classify them a certain way. A new character is introduced that tells a touching story of Julian’s namesake.
Pluto is another installment set in the Wonder world but definitely doesn’t add or take away from the original novel. It’s someone else’s story- namely, Christopher, Auggie’s best friend before Beecher Prep. Having his own things to deal with, Christopher realizes that real friendship is worth taking an extra effort for.
Shingaling is a strong addition to the series focusing on one of Auggie’s classmates, Charlotte. We get a female’s perspective on things that have transpired that faithful fifth year in Beecher Prep.
In hindsight, it would probably have been better to categorize these stories under Beecher Prep since everyone (including the teachers) seemed to have a fascinating backstory.
A lesson that stood out to me in this one was that it’s one thing to be nice, it’s another to be kind
365 Days of Wonder: Mr. Browne’s Book of Precepts is a collection of famous and original sayings that will inspire and lift up one’s spirit. There’s also some Wonder back story thrown in from the Beecher Prep’s memorable English teacher’s perspective!
Every time I read any of the Wonder stories, I am inspired to be nicer, to be kinder. I know I’m not alone. I love that there is the Choose Kind movement. And, recently, Kindness Day was celebrated on June 12th. R.J. Palacio wrote a great article on The Guardian asking, “What is Kindness?”
Tomorrow, I will be celebrating kindness and hopefully this post will make you want to read R.J. Palacio’s books and to reflect on your experiences with kindness.