Wonder by RJ Palacio, a review
Another book that Marianne at Transworld sent to me this week, and another book that I finished in almost one sitting.
“Wonder” tells the story of August Pullman, a 10 year old boy born with a facial deformity that we are told is so bad it makes people gasp when they see him. So bad that August felt he had to hide behind an astronaut’s helmet all day everyday for two years.
This book tells the story of August’s first year of school, aged 10. He didn’t go to school before that because he has had so many surgeries to try and correct some of his deformities. Up to this point he has been home schooled but now seems the right time for him to start at the local school.
Not only do we hear about this year from August’s point of view, but from his sister Olivia, known as Via. His new best friends at school, Jack and Summer and family friends Miranda and Justin. Each of these stories is a first person account of the events over that year and how we often make decisions based on just our view at the time.
For me, Olivia is actually the central character. I can really appreciate where she is coming from. She was the first born, she was the centre of her parent’s world and then along came August. She gets sidelined. Nobody notices her anymore. And she just accepts this, she knows it is how it has to be and that brings a lump to my throat.
This book explores wonderfully how cruel children can be without actually meaning to be. And how those actions can have far reaching consequences.
R J Palacio has written this book for aged 8 and upwards and I can’t wait to hear what my three think of it. It is not often that I finish a book and think that. It is a rare read that will appeal to all ages without being patronising or condescending. It reminds me of “Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time” by Mark Haddon, which I also adored. This is Palacio’s debut novel and I hope there will be more to come. Quickly, please.
Asked by his headmaster why he has drawn a picture of a duck for the “Self portrait of yourself as an animal” task.
“Is it safe to assume that it was because of the story of the duckling that turns into a swan?”
“No it’s because I think I look like a duck”
“No symbolism, no metaphors…. sometimes a duck is just a duck”
August sums himself up beautifully: To me though. I am just me. An ordinary kid
And to me this is the extraordinary story of that ordinary kid.
Published by Doubleday. Out today in hardback, on Kindle March 1st and in paperback on June 1st. RRP £12.99