Wednesday, April 4, 2012


This book has been getting a ton of press and has advertisements everywhere--effective ones, to be honest, since last week I finally couldn't take it anymore and stopped at B&N for it on my way home from work. Wonder by R.J. Palacio reminded me a bit of Jodi Picoult's My Sister's Keeper in one major way (and other than in that way, really not at all). It wasn't that exactly the fact that August, the main character, had a disease that made his lifestyle different than others, like Kate's in My Sister's Keeper. It was that while both books did feature a kid with a different lifestyle due to one medical reason or another, neither book was really about that. August was born with a genetic disorder resulting in a craniofacial abnormality--something that in describing this book before reading it I called a deformity but that now I cannot bring myself to (the idea that Auggie wouldn't like it nags at me, although I'm sure he would no less prefer "abnormality"). But the book wasn't about that...or it was about his difference only so much as we the audience noticed it along with everyone else around him. Really, it was about a kid in middle school, and all the drama that always goes along with that. Oh yeah, and some great friends he made along the way.

When I read about this book, I expected it to be young adult (so you can imagine my frustration wandering around the bookstore), but it's actually middle grade. It makes perfect sense that this book about a fifth grader would be aimed at ages eight and up, but I don't think I had quite enough time to process the implications of this being a middle grade novel between finding out and actually starting to read it. That being said, one of the only things I did not love about this book was the neat little package I was left with at the end. It's not that I don't want  my beloved characters to end up happy, but I do love books that mirror reality, no matter how complicated or awful it might be. It's why I love a spot on young adult novel, and it's what I knew this novel couldn't do.

Now a few things I did love about it. The voice, or voices rather, was spot on. Each of the many first person sections was unique and appropriate for the age the author represented in the passage. In fact, one of my favorite parts was a series of emails among parents at August's school, in which the tone drastically, age-appropriately shifted from a young person's voice to an adult's. With that, I also loved that Auggie's fifth grade voice never sounded too childlike, or worse, unintelligent. Often I feel that in attempting to act as a child, adult authors tend not to give them enough credit, but that was certainly not the case here. 

All things considered, I liked this book very much, and since i could not seem to put it down, I finished it in about twenty-four hours but have been thinking about it for several days since. 

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