Book Review: Wonder

Image Source

Title: Wonder
Author: R. J. Palacio
Publisher: RHUK; Latest edition (3 January 2013)
Genre: Fiction/Children & Young Adult
Price: Rs. 360 on Amazon
Pages: 320

When people all over my Facebook and Goodreads timeline were going ga-ga over this book, I read the blurb of it. It seemed a way too emotional and poignant read. I decided to stay away from it for a while as I was not in a very good headspace myself. But once I saw the trailer of the movie, I knew that I must read it. When the husband gifted me this book among others for new years, I knew this had to be the first book that I read in 2018. This book needs no introduction or a review to sell, but I must talk about it as this book may have changed my life in a way that I never thought it could.

August Pullman is born with a medical condition that has caused him to have many surgeries. His face is terribly deformed due to this and not everyone has a kind word for him. He has been home-schooled by his mother until now, but now his parents want him to experience the real world and go to a normal school, Beecher Prep. August is not at all happy with this and in his own head, he will never be ready to face the world. On the first day of his fifth grade at school, in-spite of not wanting to draw any attention to himself, he finds people staring at him, pointing at him and talking about him. When a kid named Julian antagonizes him for his appearance, August is determined never to get back to school. However, school seems bearable thanks to his other friends Jack and Summer who stand by him through everything. Well, almost.

'Wonder' is the story of August Pullman and his experience in a normal school. I am not going to delve deep into the story as most of us are aware of it by now. A kid with a disorder in a school, what do you expect, right? But no! This story is anything but ordinary. Once you start it, it is impossible to put the book down. The story moves quick and page after page you are left with tears in your eyes as well as a smile on your face. The story flows through the point of view of the students, but mostly it is August. He talks about how he feels about being around normal people and how they look at him. Jack's POV is interesting too. But the best POV was that of Via, August's sister. She talks about how it is to live in a family with a child like August. She talks about how August claims all the attention from their parents and how she finally comes around it. I also loved the character of Miranda a lot. The love and concern she shows for August is so endearing.

Mr. Tom Browne, August's first teacher in fifth grade, makes precepts for the class to ponder about and this basically dictates the course of the book. I have bookmarked every precept of his and I know this will help me as a person in the days to come. This book had a huge influence on me and helped inspire my recent post on kindness. Since I bought a latest version of the book, it had additional chapters with the "villain", Julian's POV. It is so nice to get into the mind of a child and know why he/she behaved a certain way. The book also shows how parents knowingly or unknowingly influence the minds of their children. Children learn so much from their parents, even without the latter realizing it.

Nate and Isabel Pullman, August's parents are hands down the best parents in the world! While the book had only the POVs of the children from the school, I would have loved to see Isabel's POV too. How is it to be the mother of a son who unintentionally "scares" people? How is it to be able to stay strong for a child being punished for no fault of his? How is it to love a child for what he is while ignoring what he is to the outer world? It would make another fascinating and a heartfelt read.

I would love to give this book 500 stars if I could, but I would say this. 'Wonder' should be made mandatory reading in primary schools. It teaches one about friendship, acceptance, family, love and yes, kindness. The storytelling is brilliant and the concept, excellent. Palacio wrote this book after an incident where she and her three-year-old son were waiting to buy ice-cream and her son saw a girl with facial birth defects and started crying. It wouldn't have been a pleasant experience, but the fact that it got her thinking about it is quite something. 'Wonder' is a true wonder in every sense and while we might not look like it or show it, we all do have an August Pullman inside of us. It is time we embrace him and all the other August Pullmans with all our heart.


Verdict: My first book of the year and I know it is going to be the BEST book of 2018.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars.

20 comments:

  1. Have heard so much about this... and my nine year old too has been asking me now. ORdering it right away!!!! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You haven't read it yet???? Woman, DO IT NOW!

      Delete
  2. And wait... did you just say 500 stars?????? Woah!!!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I watched the movie first. The book was at my home by then. Mine also had a chapter from the Director which was really nice. He explained how he approached the story and how the author was actively involved. Both my kids loved the movie and read the book. Just a few days before the book, my younger son had shared the incident of bullying of a boy in his class that really disturbed me. Reading this book made him relate it to the real life incident. You are absolutely right. This book must be made mandatory not only for every child but every parent out there. And the book facilitated the process of kindness that I was mulling over since months. So glad you loved it. I knew you would.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If I haven't said it already, your sons are really smart, Rachna! This book changed something in me for the better. I am yet to watch the movie, will do it over the weekend.

      Delete
  4. I am so glad you loved it. I read it a few months back, and adored this story. I completely agree that this should be made mandatory reading for that age group.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh yes it should. Thanks for visiting, Shantala.

      Delete
  5. It is SUCH a powerful book and so simple too - as in there are no deep philosophies, no tough concepts - that's its strength. I loved that focus was on something as simple as 'kindness'. Something every child and adult can understand and implement. I've gifted it to every child I could. Oh and it has been made part of at least one Delhi school that I know of so that's a start.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh yes! So simple, yet so impactful. A school in Delhi did that? Wow, as surprised as I am I am happy about it.

      Delete
  6. Now, hearing from so many of you, this one is a must read for me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh yes you should. It is way too good. If you have children, read it to them too.

      Delete
  7. I had picked this book long back but refrained from reading it for the same reason as yours - not in good headspace.

    We can find the story of August Pullman everywhere around us (not limited to facial deformity), sadly we do not have the 'eyes' to look out for them but you nailed it rightly by saying: "we all do have an August Pullman inside of us."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I made the mistake of reading 'When Breath Becomes Air' right after this. I almost ODed on the emotional mess.

      Oh yes, we all do have an Auggie inside us. No one can deny that.

      Delete
  8. So completely agree with every word. Every single word. Best book of 2017 for me, along with A Man called Ove. Nothing more to say. You've said it all :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am yet to read A Man Called Ove, it lies safely on my shelf for now. I know I'll love it as well.

      Thanks, Shy! Your review made me want to pick this one up.

      Delete
  9. Whoa, 500 stars? I have the book right here on my beside table. Didn't start reading till now! :P Absolutely loved your review, Soumya. I will start with the book right after my current read.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I came to know about this book from my son. Wonder was the book for reading in the last quarter of their 2nd grade class. He was so impressed and wanted to read the book sooner. So I got a copy from the library and we read together. Such a fabulous read. My 8 year old is all about kindness since we finished the book. We watched the movie later. Such a touching book and movie! I agree with you, Soumya, this one deserves 500 stars. And yeah, it is a mandatory read for kids and parents alike. Truly wonderful! 😀

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You read it with your son? Wow, that would be such an awesome feeling :)

      Delete

Care to leave a word or two? Thanks for dropping by :)