Monday, June 5, 2017

[Book Review] Wonder by R.J. Palacio

WonderWonder by R.J. Palacio
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Part 1: From The Book Cover

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.

Part 2: Recommendation

I normally don't read anything that is about bullying or deformities. I don't need to read such books to experience how hard it is to be bullied or have a deformity because I myself have been subjected to bullying from kindergarten to 6th grade because I have a scar on my upper lip due to surgeries to fix my cleft lip and palate. I don't wish to resurrect painful memories from those 7 miserable school years. Then I saw a trailer for the movie Wonder that is coming out in November 2017 and since it was on my TBR list and available to borrow from the library, I thought I'd give it a try.

"When given the choice between being right or being kind, choose kind." How I wish all of our teachers or at least a teacher during those 7 early school years taught this instead of turning a blind eye or laughing behind my back. The girls were definitely nicer than the boys as clearly depicted in this book as well.

So, if "we carry with us, as human beings, not just the capacity to be kind, but the very choice of kindness…", how come a lot of kids don't always choose to be kind or sympathetic? Is it because of what they see in their own families or is it because of what they see their friends doing or both? I love how the author shows both sides where kids with kind, sympathetic families tend to choose to be kind even if they were mean at first while the kids with families who are judgmental, unkind and unsympathetic tended to remain a mean-spirited, spoiled brat throughout the book.

And some days when I wish I had a different face, a perfect, beautiful face like my sister's, I will always remember this line and be reminded of how my mom must've felt: "I missed seeing your face, Auggie. I know you don't always love it, but you have to understand… I love it. I love this face of yours, Auggie, completely and passionately. And it kind of broke my heart that you were always covering it up."

Wonder by R.J. Palacio is beautifully written in different points of view other than Auggie's. The reader gets to experience the the story from the following character's points of view: Auggie's older sister Via, Auggie's school friends Summer and Jack, Via's boyfriend Justin, and Via's best friend Miranda. Throughout these different points of views, there might be some overlap but the story still progresses very nicely. I was just a bit thrown off because Justin's section of the book doesn't properly use proper writing styles. I'm not sure if that was deliberate like reading off of Justin's journal or something. I didn't like that part, to be honest.

All the characters especially Auggie and Via are very well developed and as the story progresses, you not only see how Auggie grows, but you see it in his family and his classmates too. The plot is not complicated at all. It did not feel overly dramatic. In fact, it reads like a memoir, being written in first person and sounding matter-of-fact. It is what it is, no special effects, no embellishments. Simple.

In the end, I hope to be able to laugh about myself more like how Auggie can laugh about himself (he's quite funny but I, on the other hand, have a very serious and quiet nature. It takes a special personality and patience to bring out my funny side) and live these words from Mr. Tushman: "Courage. Kindness. Friendship. Character. These are the qualities that define us as human beings, and propel us, on occasion, to greatness."

To conclude this review, I highly recommend Wonder by R.J. Palacio before watching the movie because for sure, there will be a lot of scenes that won't make the cut to the final movie version. This is one of those books that you will love to hug several times and most especially when it ends. It moves your spirit to kindness and I was just thinking how serendipitous it is to have come across this book in my personal year of kindness.

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