By R.J. Palacio
Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers, $15.99, 320 pages
Wonder by R.J. Palacio is simultaneously heartbreaking and uplifting story about August (“Auggie”), a young boy with a facial deformity. For that reason until recently Auggie has been home-schooled, but at age 10 his parents feel that middle school is the right time for him to socialize with other kids and try to be “normal.” Palacio tells the story from several different points of view. The reader experiences Auggie’s challenging year through his own eyes and also gains the unique perspective of those around him, including his older sister Via and a few friends Auggie makes at Beecher Prep. Wonder exposes the brutal cruelty of youngsters and even adults as they are trying to adjust to Auggie’s unusual face, but it also reveals the remarkable kindness of others as Auggie discovers the true meaning of friendship and fitting in. Palacio captures perfectly the frequently awkward emotional phase of youth and there is much to love about this book—it is both sad and hopeful, infuriating and inspiring.
Reviewed by Laura Di Giovine