August Pullman has a birth defect that caused his face to be deformed. People have difficulty looking at him, and he has become a master at noticing even the most subtle reaction. For the most part, he has been in a cocoon of love – his mother has homeschooled him, and his family loves him unconditionally. But then fifth grade comes, and his parents have decided that it’s time for him to go to school like everyone else.
Anyone who remembers their school days remembers that fifth grade was not an easy year. Kids are growing up, trying to figure out who they are, trying to fit in with the cool kids. And then along comes August, brave and terrified, and his classmates’ reactions to him are both typical and life-affirming.
As a teacher myself, I can vouch that this book is spot-on in describing life in a school. The students, the teachers, the parents – they are all out there, just as they are in Wonder. I’ve read plenty of middle grade fiction, but this one gets the prize for a realistic view of daily school life.
And one of the amazing things about this book is that we don’t just see August’s point of view. We start there; we can see life through his eyes. And then in the next section, we switch to his sister’s point of view – and suddenly everything is different from how we saw it at first. R.J. Palacio gets so completely inside the heads of her characters that you can’t help but see everything that way, too.
August is a wonder, and so is this book. So true to life, so poignant. So filled with hope. So inspiring. Family, friends, random strangers – please read this book.