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Wonder is one of those books that makes its way through the hands of everyone you know, and when you finally read it, you get it. A friend sent it to me with a note: “You have to read this.” And I was lucky to have the opportunity. R. J. Palacio’s book took me two days to read and had me in tears for half that time. Auggie is born with a severely deformed face, and he is just starting at a new school after being homeschooled his whole life. The book runs through his initial fear, and then his acceptance of the situation, all while not shying away from themes of bullying and family, loss and love.
I was thrilled to learn that we’d be offering it in Arrow November. And I knew that many of our employees would want to say a few words about Wonder.
Alison, Book Talk Videos
I was only a short way into Wonder when it happened: I knew immediately and without question that this book was going to change conversations about bullying. I knew it would become an integral part of teachers’ lesson plans and kids’ reading experiences. I’ve been in the children’s book business for 14 years, and I can’t recall ever being so certain that a book would be adopted in equal measure by kids, parents, AND teachers before, but that is exactly what’s happened to Wonder.
This is a book about kindness and compassion. It’s a superb story of friendship and family and struggling to find your own voice in a world that doesn’t know quite how to hear it. Don’t just dismiss it as some sad sob story, because it’s not. It’s a hopeful, believably triumphant account of a kid who is better than the things people say about him. And you will have a LOT to say about Auggie after you’ve read this book.
Ann Marie, Editorial Manager
I read Wonder in one sitting. Not because it’s the kind of page-turner that’s filled with edge-of-your-seat adventure, heart-stopping suspense, or shocking mystery. No, I read Wonder in one sitting because the characters were so rich and honest and flawed that I couldn’t sleep until I knew exactly where they were coming from and why they did the things that confused, angered, surprised, or delighted me. Chapters are told from the perspectives of various different characters and every time I went to put the book down for the night, I was lured back in by the reveal of who was up next and the promise that they would explain themselves. I read Wonder in one sitting because for that short period of time I was completely immersed in the life of Auggie, the people he affected, and those who affected him, and I think I’m a little bit better for having known them.
For any reader who is different, who has ever felt different, or who worries about being different, this book speaks to the key to survival: perseverance. Young August was born with a severely deformed face. There is no place for him to run from the reactions of others. So instead, he looks back. He goes to school. He learns acceptance. And he grows stronger. A brilliant, brave, and emotional story that’s sure to build confidence and empathy.
First you say Wonder? Then you read it and say wonderful! This book is absolutely terrific. Auggie is an inspiring and heroic character, and the chapters told from different characters’ viewpoints give you a real insight into life, the human experience, and the amazing effect one fantastic person can have on many.
Wonder is that book that you start reading and can’t put down until you’ve finished it…and then you wish it hadn’t ended. While the catalyst for Auggie’s struggles is certainly unique, I saw myself and my experiences in those of Auggie and his classmates. Wonder rings true, heartbreakingly so at times, and anyone who reads it will have a hard time coming away unaffected.
Kristin S., Editorial Assistant
I loved Wonder for all of the different voices it showcased. It’s told in alternating voices, so you really feel like you get to know funny and resilient Auggie, his sister who loves him but just wants to be normal, and his classmates who are in turn confused, kind, bullying, and heroic. R. J. Palacio has created a book that feels so real, it makes you wonder what you and your friends would do if Auggie walked into your school.
One of the things that I found really helped the sense of authenticity in this story wasn’t just the multiple perspectives, but that those perspectives all came from kids. Although you get a very complete portrait of the adults and have a sense of their emotions and thoughts over the year, it is all through the eyes of the kid characters. I also think that having the multiple kid perspectives allowed a lot of astute observations to come from a variety of angles, whereas one kid spouting all that wisdom would have felt a little unbelievable. The emotional range was complex, but when the emotions were focused on one experience (Daisy!) it became very powerful.
November 15, 2012