Recommend a… (book with a blue cover)

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Wonder by R.J. Palacio
Published February 14th, 2012 | Knopf Books for Young Readers
Realistic Fiction

“I won’t describe what I look like. Whatever you’re thinking, it’s probably worse.”

August (Auggie) Pullman was born with a facial deformity that prevented him from going to a mainstream school—until now. He’s about to start 5th grade at Beecher Prep, and if you’ve ever been the new kid then you know how hard that can be. The thing is Auggie’s just an ordinary kid, with an extraordinary face. But can he convince his new classmates that he’s just like them, despite appearances?

R. J. Palacio has written a spare, warm, uplifting story that will have readers laughing one minute and wiping away tears the next. With wonderfully realistic family interactions (flawed, but loving), lively school scenes, and short chapters, Wonder is accessible to readers of all levels

Palacio’s Wonder proves itself a tender story that deserves to be read not only for theme, but for value. It produced no effect at first, and August’s young sense of humor — though I hate to admit this, because it will assert me as a downer — felt dull. My sympathy owns a tough coat, though penetrable, while my perspective has become jaded. (Fussy taste, it seems, extends beyond the realm of food.) I wondered how well, if at all, I would warm up to August Pullman. Few stories like Wonder manage to stand out among the heap and bedazzle me. While others may sound preachy or campy, few touch on a deeper, realistic level if only because I’m human. Needless to say, August grew on me — and quickly. (In fact, I found myself attached to the majority of characters.)

I feel shock and disgust, yet I also expect these emotions, when I am a witness to cruelty — whether I play the bystander or victim role. Sitting opposite of cruelty’s nature, however,  is kindness, and how overwhelming it can feel to be surprised by it! Palacio presents a story heavy in affliction but writes with humor balanced by keen sensitivity. This book reminded me that while life throws punches, goodness still exists. These are moments to appreciate and not sweep by unnoticed. I laughed and I cried, and I felt uplifted. For me, Wonder is not about the ending’s accuracy to real-life situations. Wonder is about the lesson I sometimes forget I have learned, and the importance of it.

Kinder than is necessary. Because it’s not enough to be kind. One should be kinder than needed.

Kindness, after all, does not simply affect the person it is directed at, because kindness also invokes change in the one who gives it.