Saturday, November 21, 2015

Wonder (RJ Palacio)

Goodreads summary:

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.

Originally posted February 9, 2013:

Today we had a 2.5 hour drive to make, and so I got to spend a lot of time reading. Actually, we drove 2.5 hours to get to the funeral, then another hour to the cemetery, and an hour back home. I told my family we would have to leave the family festivities by 4 pm so I'd still get some daylight hours in for some more reading - but they told me I was out of luck. Still, I pretty much got 5 hours of reading in today. It was blissful.

I spent most of my reading time with August Pullman, the main character from Wonder. What an amazing book! I have read a lot of blogs where people rave about this book. I don't think they quite said enough about what a great story it is. It is one of the best books I've read in the past year, for sure.

Wonder is the story of August Pullman, a boy in Grade 5, who is starting public school for the first time. He has home schooled up until that point because he has had so many health issues. He was born with many facial deformities and has endured endless surgeries. He is not eager to start school, and kids aren't eager to have him around. Middle school is hard enough. When you have deformities, it is even harder.

My heart broke as I read the mean things other kids did to him. I cheered him on as he endured the trials. I cried, and I laughed.

The story is told from many people's perspectives: His sister, his friends, his non-friends, his sister's friends, his sister's boyfriend, and August, himself. It is brilliantly crafted. It, for sure, is a wonder!

....personal note: It was interesting to be reading of August's experiences, and then go to a family event. Maybe you don't have this in your family - but we have a few, um, shall we say, wing nuts in our family??! Funerals seem to be an interesting melting pot of people and I found myself shaking a finger at myself as I did my usual dance and duck to avoid some people in the family. I found myself wanting to be a little kinder. And, man, was it hard!

Favorite quote: Everyone should have a standing ovation once in their life.

I am giving August a standing ovation right now!

Great idea: There is a teacher in the book that has the kids learn "precepts". They are meaningful quotes. Each month there is a new precept. At the end of the month they write an essay about what the precept means. He also encourages kids to send him their precepts in the summer, and he promises to write back. I love that idea!

Re-read November 2015: I love this book. I'm re-reading as it was the choice for our book club this moth.

The way the author has told the story through different perspectives is brilliant. I could relate to each person as they told the story.

I finished this book on the bus with a bunch of my students. Nothing like trying to hold back the tears amongst a bunch of 8 year olds as I read.

I love this story. It is a great conversation starter.

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