2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
So wonderful that I read it twice!,
This review is from: Wonder (Hardcover)
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This is really a story about love and kindness and seeing past the surface to understand and respect every human being, no matter how different they seem. August Pullman goes through such an amazing year of challenges, growth and transition during fifth grade, his first time in a real school (not homeschool), but in spite of sometimes gut wrentching challenges, August ("Auggie") comes out very much on top, leading his proud and happy mother to say at the end of the book, "You really are a wonder, Auggie. You are a wonder."
The two most remarkable things that make this story, in my opinion, are, of course August's astonishingly different face, and also his amazingly loving family. August was born with serious birth defects, mainly affecting his face, and has gone through many many surgeries and procedures to improve his health and appearance. Because of all the surgery and health considerations Auggie has been home-schooled and, I might add quite sheltered by his family. The love of the Pullman family is truly beautiful thing, but I actually do think that they over-protected August quite a bit in the first chapters (or, in his life up to the point that they make the decision to have him attend school). I've read a lot of memoirs and watched movies and things about people who have disabilities or children with them, and the successful ones tend to treat that child like s/he is no different from the rest. Or the person gets on with their life not trying to be "special". So, yeah, Auggie has been pretty sheltered by his mom and dad and even his sister Via, all of whom love him with a fierceness. So, even though he is a wonder of a kid--loving, capable, and brave; he is a bit of a baby in some ways, and he really does a lot of emotional maturing in the course of this book.
What a huge thing that must be, though, to know that you look so weird that EVERYONE is startled when they see you, even though many try very hard to hide it. Staring is a big, big issue that August has to deal with all the time. People staring, people pretending not to stare, people staring and pointing, people staring and whispering about him, people avoiding touching or coming near him, even some young kid screaming, or older kids jeering. No wonder he is scared to go to school where so many people will see him all the time.
At first, he has only a couple of friends at Beecher Prep, the private school in NYC he attends (he had to go through qualifying entrance exams to get it), and one kid, Julian, a suck-up phony from a very rich family tries to get people to be mean to him. One boy, Jack, hangs around as a friend, but, even intially it was at the request of the school's principal for him to befriend Auggie and show him around. The friendship gets sorely tested. One girl, Summer, is not vainly involved in the schoolgirl cliques and invites August to sit at her table and eat with her, which he does all year. Things get a whole lot worse for Auggie before they get better, and I think the author does a very good job with the part of the story where things really come to a head at the 5th grade nature camp trip, and how that resolves.
I also like how the story is told in sections from the vantage point of the different characters. Auggie of course has a lot to say. Next his sister tells her point of view. The author does a great job of describing what it might be for a sibling of a child with many special medical and other needs. She loves August very much and is very loved by her family, but even so she recognizes that their world necessarily revolves around August and his changing needs. Also, Auggie's friend Jack narrates a section, as well as Via's boyfriend, and Miranda, Via's childhood best friend who has always cherished August, and the girl Summer who befriends August at lunchtime at Beecher Prep. I think this way of writing is a good way to tell the story, as it shows how there are many different ways of looking at this same person, and that he really is a person and not just a face.
I agree with the reviewers who recommend that this book should be read and re-read and discussed by young people and people of all ages. It could really help open people's eyes and hearts and minds.