The wonder that is R. J. Palacio's Wonder is just lovely. Absolutely, positively lovely.
August was born with a rare facial deformity that makes him look like a monster. He has been home schooled most of his life--until one day, his parents tell him he will be enrolling in the local private middle school. He is scared out of his mind because he is familiar with the knee-jerk reaction people have to his face. As August moves through fifth grade, he learns what true friendship means and that it is always those you least expect that will break your heart or make it all worthwhile.
I adored this book. I was so impressed by it in all senses. I thought the description of August was clear and descriptive while still leaving enough up to the imagination so the reader could discern for him- or herself what they felt August really looked like. I loved the empathy that Palacio was able to bring to the narrative--never once did I feel like I was on the outside feeling sorry for August. When my heart broke for him, it was always because I felt intimately familiar with him, his family, and his struggles. I felt that I knew him so well and that I loved him as my own.
I felt this book brought enough empathy to the table while still forcing August to deal with the situations he faced with bullies and others. If I felt bad for him, I was also rooting for him to step up and be the bigger person. I wanted him to face his demons and become the young man he was always destined to be. Nothing was a sympathy ploy; it was about acceptance as you are regardless of others. I loved that August's friends stuck up for him out of the goodness of their hearts and their genuine care for their friend. It was true friendship. This was a really beautiful book that every young person should read.
Kindle version on left, hard copy on right.