Ever since childhood, I have had a deep love of reading. As my schedule is quite busy, I don’t always have as much time as I would like to spend reading, so I have to be a little choosy about which books I pick up. I tend to lean toward the titles listed on the New York Times bestselling lists, as I feel like they’re a safe bet. They’ve been given the New York Times stamp of approval after all! I was sent the #1 New York Times bestselling book, Wonder, by R.J. Palacio as part of a review program and carved out an afternoon last weekend to sit down and dig in, and I wasn’t disappointed!
Wonder by R. J. Palacio is one of those books that when you finish reading it, you wipe your tears away and then want to immediately it to hand to your children to read for themselves. In a nutshell, Wonder is a story about empathy, compassion and acceptance: all things that we parents strive to instill in our children at an early age.
August, or “Auggie,” is a ten-year-old boy with such severe facial abnormalities that after being homeschooled for years, he is only able to enter a mainstream private school in the fifth grade. As Auggie enters school, he knows that his appearance may hinder his ability to make friends and prepares himself for the inevitable stares from his new classmates. It broke my heart to read from Auggie’s perspective, if you’re the emotional type, you better have your Kleenex handy while reading Wonder!
As Auggie beings school and the story progresses, R. J. Palacio does something that isn’t very common in books like this; he switches narratives so that in addition to the story from Auggie’s perspective, you also get a peek inside his sister, Via’s, mind, which is a heart-breaking story in itself. While Auggie has always been the center of the world for his family, and understandably so, Via has been emotionally neglected and actually feels guilty for wanting some of the attention given to her brother. You’ll also hear from Via’s boyfriend, which I found pretty surprising, but an interesting outside perspective. Classmates and friends of Auggie also weigh in, which really helps to paint a more complete picture of what Auggie’s world is really like.
R. J. Palacio has called her debut novel “a meditation on kindness,” and I think that is the key to the book – Palacio paints such a complete and powerful picture of what it is like for Auggie to be so different that no one can walk away from the novel without a more considerate approach in dealing with others.
I’ve never really “been different,” but I have always been aware of the need for compassion and inclusion when it comes to others. Reading Wonder would certainly help instill that mentality in your children, especially young teens who are at an age where being kind to others – especially those who might be “different” doesn’t always come naturally.
This blog post is part of a paid SocialMoms and Wonder blogging program. The opinions and ideas expressed here are my own.