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Wonder
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on 20 August 2014
I read this book in one sitting and could not recommend it enough.

Upon seeing it, holding it, reading the synopsis, your first thought will be...hmm...it's a children's book. I don't know if I want to read that. I don't know if it's for me.

That's what I thought at least, even though I found the synopsis interesting, I just wasn't in the mood to read a children's book. Eventually though, I folded and bought it. Boy, am I glad I did. When my sister saw me with it she said, Oh that's a wonderful book, you'll love it! I asked her, Will it make me cry? She said, I don't know. That depends on you.

Well, it did. It brought tears to my eyes and made me want to hug this kid so hard, along with each friend he's made.

So let's start from the beginning. This story is about a ten year old boy who is for a lack of better word "deformed", he was born this way, and doctors thought he wouldn't make it, but he did. Home schooled his whole life because of the way people react to his appearance, and because he couldn't take people's reactions (people can be so cruel sometimes), his mom finally decides it is time to put him in school. She argues that she can't teach him forever, she's not good at maths. His mom is great. As is his dad.

August (Auggie) tries to resist and argue at first, but upon being taken on a tour of the premises and meeting a few of his classmates, he makes the decision to go. Thus begins a very painful journey, watching Auggie have to deal with people's first reactions, the kids avoiding him, refusing to be partnered with him, refusing to eat with him, so far as to create a game in which if you are touched by him you'd have received the Plague. Until that is Summer, who sits with him during lunch, at first out of pity, but later out of friendship, and Jack who becomes Auggie's best friend and classmate.

What I loved about Palacio's delivery and execution of this story is he did not focus it entirely on Auggie, but rather gave us a glimpse of how everyone in Auggie's life dealt with it and how it affected their lives in turn. This included chapters narrated by his sister Via, his friends Jack and Summer, Via's boyfriend and even Via's best friend who has always been close to Auggie and bought him a helmet once, which he wore for 2 years in a row to cover his face and was able to play outside without the usual stares of shock and surprise and revulsion.

Palacio gave all the narrators a very honest voice, they all sounded sincere and real. It makes you feel like you really are taking this journey right alongside Auggie as we are given a glimpse into all their lives. I loved the relationship that developed between Auggie and Jack in particular. I loved how despite all the conflicts and "drama", fifth-graders are so much more straightforward than adults when dealing with things they like or dislike. I respected Jack for owning up to his mistakes, and I respect Summer for confronting Auggie head on when he tried to avoid her. I also absolutely love how the kids stood by and supported Auggie, almost protecting him, when they first introduced him to their parents, going to lengths in order to prepare their parents for who they're going to meet and how NOT to react. Palacio intertwines serious, heartfelt moments with humor that it makes the whole book very endearing and real.

You start out wanting to cry and take on all these bullies that are hurting this little boy. You end up crying because you're just so happy and proud of what he's become and the lives he's touched.

Everyone in the world should get a standing ovation at least once in their lives. That line made my heart squeeze for the little boy.

This book may be written from children's point of view, in a simplistic child's way, but this is a book that everyone should read. And maybe learn a thing or two.
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110 of 113 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
August 'Auggie' Pullman is a ten-year-old boy, much like many other boys of his age, except that he was born with facial disfigurements. He has undergone countless operations but he is still aware of how different he looks from everyone else, and he is acutely aware of the diverse reactions he gets from people. The novel is narrated by several different voices, each in the first person, and the one that features most is Auggie himself. The other characters who we hear from, like his sister Via, offer different perspectives on Auggie, on how they feel about him, on their relationship with him, and how he affects their lives. The chapters are, for the most part, very short, and it's very easy, and tempting given the lovely writing and the great story, to read a lot, if not all of the book in one sitting. We meet Auggie at a key stage in his life - he has been home schooled until now, partly to protect him, and his parents now want to send him out to attend middle school, a huge and incredibly daunting step for him. Is he brave enough to try it, how will he fit in, how will the other children react to him, and the other parents - so many anxieties surrounding this new part of his life.

This is a lovely read, Auggie himself is endearing, funny, believable, and most importantly he is deeply loved, supported and accepted by his parents and his sister. It could be said this novel is an illustration of the maxim that it is ultimately 'what is on the inside that counts', writ large. But maybe Auggie wouldn't be who he is without being as he is. He has had to learn to deal with peoples' reactions to him, on seeing his face, from shock or fear, to acceptance and friendship from some, or unkindness and taunting from others. He is a kind-hearted boy, who is so happy seeing those he loves enjoy success. On seeing his sister Via receive applause he decides; 'I think there should be a rule that everyone in the world should get a standing ovation at least once in their lives.

The novel offers, through Auggie, a real insight into how it must feel to be considered 'different', and how a child might deal with this. At first when the narrator was no longer Auggie I wondered how well it would work, having gotten used to seeing things from his perspective and enjoying this, but I needn't have worried, as the other characters' sections all add to Auggie's story rather than detract from it. The story isn't just about how Auggie is different though, it's about all the things he experiences that are the same as anyone else of his age, such as not being sure he wants his mum to kiss him in front of everyone anymore, making new friends, getting used to middle school, and so on.

This novel is aimed at a children's and young adult audience but it wouldn't harm anyone of any age to read it and be reminded not to judge by appearances and to be a little kinder to others, and it will reward those who do read it with a moving, at times dark, but also uplifting read.
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48 of 50 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I can be cynical sometimes, but it is hard to be anything but delighted and heartened by "Wonder". Don't approach it thinking that it's just for children; it is for all ages (and some of the dialogue from adults in the book may even go over younger children's heads).

I found myself engrossed in "Wonder" from the very first page, something that rarely happens to me. The story is just so alive, it's like a sunburst. I giggled and I cried a little. I scowled but more often I smiled. I would recommend this book to anyone and everyone. In particular I think it would be a great choice for reading in school. There are hugely positive lessons in "Wonder": empathy and kindness. It's the old "it's inside what counts" message, but in a fresh, life-affirming package.

I read it in a day, because I couldn't put it down. You really can't go wrong with it.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on 17 May 2012
This is the first time (since picture books) that I have read the same book as both my sons. I bought it after reading a positive review in a newspaper, read it and recommended it to my 9 yr old. He loved it. Yesterday my 12 ( nearly 13 ) yr old finished it, he loved it too.
"A great mixture of funny, sad and interesting" was his review.

It does help if you know a bit about Star Wars - i only know a bit, both boys got every reference!! When I was reading it I did check a couple of things with them.

I haven't read any other so -called "cross over" books, but would warmly recommend this - lots of discussion points but not a heavily moral book so no preachy bits.

My sons particularly liked the fact that you heard from several different view points, I just enjoyed the story
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79 of 84 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Wonder is quite simply an awesome book. I enjoyed every page and devoured it within the space of a few hours. It is one of those books I can see I will continue to recommend for years to come.

Wonder is about a young boy called Auggie who was born with a deformed face due to faults within his genetic makeup. As a small child he endured hours of painful surgical procedures but still he doesn't look 'normal'. Reading the book gave me real insight for ordinary people who are considered 'odd' by society and made my heart break for him as you saw all the discrimantion he went through when he went to school for the first time.

The thing I love about Auggie is that on the whole he is prepared to take his lot and just get on with his life without moaning or feeling sorry for himself. He just wants to be considered normal but his peers don't always let him. The most heart breaking thing for me was seeing how he reacted when other children treated him in a horrible way because he couldn't quite understand what gave them the right to treat him in such a way.

I enjoyed how the story switched perspectives throughout giving you greater insight to the world in which Auggie lived. I especially found his sister's story touching in the way in which she had selflessly given up so much for her brother without complaining or jealously for the different ways in which she and her brother were treated.

The overwhelming message you are left with by the end of this beautiful tale is one of hope and the notion that the world would be a much better place if people were more tolerant and kinder to each other. The way this is done really has a lot of reasonance without being cheesy or preachy which is why I think it is such a stunning novel. Certainly a book I would recommend.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 17 November 2014
Wonder is about a young boy named August who is just about to join a mainstream school after being home schooled all his life. August has a facial disfiguration that has always made him "not normal" in the eyes of others. After a life of being stared at and spoken about, August is unsure that school is the right place for him, but soon realises he enjoys it a lot more than he first thought.

It's hard to review Wonder in a critical, objective way since my feelings and emotions get in the way every time I try. This book was amazing and even though it made me cry, it's one of the best children's books I've ever read. I do feel as though the reason it made me cry was that it hit a little too close to home, rather than purely for the book itself, although I found some parts hard to read.

The book is from the perspective of several characters - starting with a section from August. The sections include August's sister and some of his new friends. Whilst showing us August's transaction into a mainstream school, the book also teaches us lessons on friendships, bullying and the necessity of being nice. Everybody should read this book, no matter how old they are. It will touch your heart.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on 8 June 2012
I bought this book for my 10 year old daughter, and she quickly devoured it. I asked her to write her own uncensored review so here it is:

When I first picked up this book I didn't know what to expect. The blurb didn't give a lot of information about what was inside the book. The cover of the book was irrelevant to what happened in the book but it was a nice touch and it gave you a picture in your head of what August might have looked like. When I started reading it I couldn't put it down and I finished the book in about a week. August has a face that you could never imagine in your life. It is the type of face that you just want to scream and run away but your eyes are fixed to him, never looking away. But he realizes that he has to face his fears of going to school (as he has been home-schooled most of his life until now). A world that has never see a face like his. This book is a moving and serious book but has a loving feeling when you read it and when you do read it, it will make you think (which is a good thing) about people who have disabilities and how they must feel about going out in public and how they feel when we look and stare and what they must feel like inside. It is a truly heart-warming book that has something for everybody. There's adventure, romance and lots more. I think that this book is for children and some adults. Wonder is just an awesome book and I loved every word, page, chapter, I loved it all. I can see that the book will be read for many years and that people will never get bored of it. I think that it is a stunning book and I would certainly recommend it to all.
Written by Charlie brush aged 10 xxx
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 2 March 2012
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Anybody who has ever been involved with the education of middle or high school children will know that they really are a different species. Part alien, part zombie, part celebrity and wholly weird. The fact that they are collected together and required to sit in rooms with each other for several hours a day with, usually, a single adult is just downright bizarre. Rules are, invariably, made by the adults in order that control and discipline can be instilled, usually without care, consideration of or consultation especially with the young people in their "care". So schools can easily become feeding grounds for bullying, unkindness and distress unless very closely monitored.

The immediate precedent for "Wonder" was not "The Curious Incident" as has been quoted in so many reviews but Sapphire's "Precious" which also deals with a misfit child who finds redemption through unquantifiable kindness. Comparing "Wonder" with "Curious Incident" entirely misses the point of the book. August is a perfectly normal boy, though even the advanced publicity for the book ~ see the terrible Youtube promotion ~ seems to deny this. The descriptions of Augie's facial oddities are given quite graphically in the section from his sister Via's point of view and, as a reader, you either deal with it or you stop reading and as in the film "Mask" continuation is way beyond curiosity.

The winning factor of this book is not its honesty, which, on occasion made me feel like I was being totally manipulated, but then that is what fiction does, but its truth to language, the observation of the way children use language for both good and hurt and the subtle ways that Palacio depicts the adults through the words they choose rather than their actions (though nobody can deny the desire to slap the bitch of a mother who photoshopped the class photograph).

The book is a tough one and should become required reading for high school age students and anybody involved in education for that matter now that we are finally emerging from the ghastly imprisonment of political correctness.

August Pullman is a little guy who will stay around in your head long after you have finished the book because, in a sense, he is all of us. We all have a little Augie in us and we all learn how to overcome the difficulties we have being us its just that in his case it is writ large on the front of his head.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
A ten year old boy starts at a new school in the fifth grade...
It's a good prep school, he passed the exam with flying colours...
It'll be the first time he's been to school, ever...
He's been home-schooled by his Mom...
Auggie (short for August) is clever, funny and loves Star Wars...
He doesn't have many friends, but his sister Via, and Daisy the dog make up for that...
Why? Because people stare, then look away quickly...
Auggie's face takes some getting used to...
He was born with multiple facial problems including a cleft palate...
But underneath it he's a normal boy, who just wants to be loved ...
It's going to be a hard year...

That is the essence of this book in a nutshell, which follows Auggie's first year in school. I'm not going to say much more about the plot, as you can work out what sorts of things will happen. This brave youngster is putting himself (and us) on a roller-coaster that will have huge ups and downs, many twists and turns before it pulls back in to the station for the summer recess.

Yes, we readers are manipulated. Yes, it's a bit sentimental, designed to tug at your heart-strings. But, it was unputdownable. I smiled when Auggie won battles, I got cross when he struggled, and at one point I did cry. I didn't mind all this though, for it was done with kindness.

Written for children, this book illustrates the issues of living with deformity really well. We start off with Auggie telling his own story, but in later chapters the tale is handed over to his sister and his friends, interspersed with more of Auggie's voice. We hear both sides, including what it's like being the sister or friend of someone like Auggie. There are many, many valuable points about bullying and friendship to be gleaned from Auggie and his classmates. Underlying it all though, as set out by their English teacher Mr Browne, in his `Precepts' for life, is the quality of being kind. He tells them, "When given the choice between being right or being kind. Be Kind."

I hope this book achieves a wide readership among boys and girls. They'll find that Auggie is actually great company - he's very self-deprecating and funny. The author captures the personalities of all the children brilliantly, as she does Auggie's parents. Speaking of parents, I also hope that enough of them read it too - there is one event later in the book that should be a lesson to all grown-ups about snobbishness and tolerance. It got me really cross!

It may have been predictable reading it as an adult, but I loved this novel. I laughed, I cried and I couldn't put it down.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 9 May 2012
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I was thrilled to have the chance to review this book; my eleven-year-old and I had been eyeing it up in a book shop just the day before - drawn in by the striking cover and intrigued by the contents.
She nabbed it to read first and emerged from her bedroom red-eyed and sniffling. "Oh Mum, you've GOT to read this next," she said. "It's amazing. It's just totally... COOL BEANS!"

She was right. This book IS amazing and totally cool beans. It is also deeply moving, uplifting and perfectly pitched; a book full of heart which makes you think twice. The central character, August, ten, is profoundly facially disfigured, despite countless operations. He is an ordinary kid who likes Star Wars and ice cream and his X Box yet his unusual appearance makes other children stare, and even adults aren't sure how to treat him. Now, for the first time ever, his parents decide he should start school and integrate with other children.

At first August is wary. He knows everyone will stare at him and mock him. He hears his dad fretting that he'll be a 'lamb to the slaughter' and even though he doesn't understand the phrase, he knows it isn't good. Scared and apprehensive, August takes the plunge, little knowing that as well as changing his own life, he'll affect the lives of many many others.

Narrated by August, his sister, and various other characters, this simply told story packs a powerful punch. Never sentimental, never cloying or schmaltzy, it is a triumph of hope over adversity. I hope you love it as much as we did.
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