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4.8 out of 5 stars
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4.8 out of 5 stars
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"I think there should be a rule that everyone in the world should get a standing ovation at least once in their lives," says August Pullman, the main character in Wonder, and RJ Palacio certainly deserves hers for this bittersweet but ultimately uplifting novel about a severely disfigured boy. Wonder appears to be aimed at kids of perhaps ten upwards, but it's an equally engaging and moving read for an adult and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

We all know that starting a new school at all is hard enough as it is, but things are doubly difficult for Auggie, whose facial disfigurement is so significant that he is fully accustomed to people visibly recoiling when they meet him for the first time, even if they think they're hiding their reaction.

As we follow him through his first year, Auggie is self-deprecating, quietly determined and, like most children of his age, an amusing and sometimes poignant mix of naive and astute. It's impossible not to root for him. However, a major strength of wonder is the introduction of perspectives other than Auggie's in the narrative. Wonder is among other things a book about how we perceive others, so it's only fitting that we hear not just from Auggie himself but from those around him. The sections narrated by Auggie's teenage sister Olivia, who is fiercely protective of her younger brother and yet at the same time acutely aware that his unique needs mean she will always play second fiddle, are particularly enlightening, but every voice struck me as vivid and authentic.

The toughest challenges Auggie has to overcome are related to his appearance, of course - but anyone who can remember being eleven will be familiar with typical anxieties like their first overnight school trip, mysteriously shifting social cliques and peer pressure to grow up too soon, and there is much in Wonder that any reader can identify with.

If I have a criticism of Wonder it's that there are times when Auggie's parents seem a little too understanding, a little too indulgent, even, to be true, and I would have liked to see a little more complexity in their characters. It's also fair to say that Wonder isn't particularly plot-driven. But it's a lovely, oddly life-affirming read that reminds us of some simple but vital truths, good and bad, about human nature, and although there a couple of heartbreaking chapters, I'd defy anyone not to finish this book smiling.
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on 5 September 2013
"He is the greatest... whose strength carries up the most hearts by the attraction of his own."
These words by Henry Ward Beecher (19th Century abolitionist and clergyman), and quoted at Beecher Prep's graduation ceremony, quite adequately sums up 5th grader August Pullman's impact on his schoolmates and his family in the process of a single year.

Auggie is just like any other 10 year-old boy, with an almost geeky obsession with the Star Wars franchise, financially privileged in the way some kids aren't, with uber-cool parents who joke and josh each other (and their kids), and a pretty and smart older sister, who dotes on him. In many ways, Auggies has a lot going for him. But he is different because he has never gone to school before 5th grade, and the initiation into a whole new environment that other kids are already familiar with can be a frightening and bewildering experience for anyone, not least for someone who suffers from an extremely rare cranio-facial deformity.

R.J Palacio gets under the skin of Auggie, delivering most parts of the book from his perspective, as he navigates the big bad world of middle school. It is easy to get overly sentimental when writing a story about a disadvantaged child, but the author manages to make her story rise above it when she shifts the narrative to the other characters, and reveal their struggles as well. In fact, I felt the most poignant parts of the novel dealt with Auggie's sister, Via, and her contradictory feelings about her brother and how she copes with the attention her parents give him. Auggie's b best friend in school, Jack, was also quite well fleshed out.

For a children's book, I think it was well-written, especially in the chapter "Letters, Emails, Facebook, Texts", which artfully revealed the aftermath of the blowup between Jack and Auggie's tormenter Julian. However the style of writing suffered a little in the last bit when Auggie took back the narrative, and it became more of a recount which reported dialogues and speeches. Nonetheless, highly recommended.
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on 20 August 2015
Wonder was recommended to me by a friend, who has a young son and he had read it in school. At first I was a bit unsure as I'm not a parent, and wasn't sure I would get anything from a child's book.

I am so glad I did, very thought provoking, heartwarming and a fantastic read. I havent been able to stop telling people about it. I told a friend who is a teacher to year 6 pupils in the UK and she is now going to get the kids to read it. I think a lot of children and adults alike can really learn something from Wonder.

I read it whilst on holiday and was done in 7hrs. Really enjoyed it. Please read it.
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on 3 April 2017
The book follows Auggie, a boy with a 'deformed' face through his first year at middle school, having never been to school previously. It is uplifting and hopeful because it shows that sometimes people do see the goodness and truth within. I would however have liked to know more about the story of Julian, the boy who bullies Auggie and what provoked his reaction.
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on 21 January 2013
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and bought it after hearing one of the Radio 2 presenters talking about it.

Auggie is a child with severe facial disfigurements and this is story of how he copes with being sent to school after being home schooled by his mom for his entire school life.

He's extremely daunted by the thought of going to a mainstream school and dealing with the stares, the fear and the attitude of other children. You really feel his trauma whilst reading it and on one hand you want him to brave it out and go to school and triumph over adversity, become a stronger person etc etc, but on the other you completely understand his wish to stay at home.

One of the most thought provoking parts of this book to me was when he spoke about his dog Daisy, and how much she loved him, and his face meant nothing at all to her.

The most surprising thing about this book is that it apparently wasn't written by someone who has first hand experience of this prejudice herself.

Auggie is an extremely loveable character and I would highly recommend this book.
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on 5 March 2017
Wow. What an amazing book. I saw it recommended on a Periscope, and got a sample immediately. After reading that first chapter I had to buy it. Everyone should read this - just be prepared to smile, laugh and cry - and you will be a kinder person.
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on 30 April 2017
This is an amazing book! I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and finished it within a couple of days.

I had heard lots of positive things about this book and as a year 6 teacher looking for a new text I gave it a go and I am so glad I did.

Brilliant. A must read.
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on 8 April 2014
This book was recommended to me by my 10yr old Grandson and my daughter.I did not want to put it down.It is written to show the different views of different characters.I loved the main character and just how strong he was.He made me want to meet him.I dont know if R.J.Palacio has first hand knowledge of such a character but it was certainly very very well written.A couple of poignant moments where a tissue is needed this just adds to the tale.
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on 7 March 2017
I bought this book but haven't read it yet after my friend recommended it to me while reading it on a long train journey. She said the story is a poignant one and really touches you deeply. Can't wait to start reading it...
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on 24 August 2016
I ploughed through this book in a day... Accompanied by much tears and laughter. The book is exquisitely written. I love how it uses the perspective of different characters to fill in the blanks. It is a tale of human compassion and kindness. As a parent and teacher it brought to life the real day to day issues facing those children who ar different for whatever reason and showed us how this is ok.
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