Friday, June 20, 2014

Review Me Twice: Wonder by R J Palacio

I had seen this cover before, but I had never thought about what the book might be about until Cassy selected it for us to review. And I'm so glad she did. It's about a kid, August, with Treacher-Collins syndrome (which basically means that his face looks very, very different from most people's faces) and how he deals with going to school for the first time.

I sobbed at one part this book. (If you've read it, I bet you can't guess at which part.) But I was totally entrenched in it throughout. I cared about the characters... more importantly, I cared about the protagonist. If you've been reading the blog carefully, you might know that I don't usually care about the protagonist; I'm more interested in side characters and sometimes villains. But August is a great protagonist.

And you might also recall that I'm not a huge fan of switching POVs throughout a book, but I love the way it happens here, because the characters are all interesting and unique and real.

I loved this book and I think it has a wide appeal: young people August's age; slightly older people (high schoolers) his sister Via's age; parents, whether they have a child with a syndrome/disorder/issue like August or not; people like me who had only heard of Treacher-Collins syndrome in passing and never really gave it much thought and had to look it up in Wikipedia to remember the name in order to review the book... everyone.

There are some books that just touch your heart, and Wonder is one of them.  Around Christmas, when I bought a pile of books from my job, I put this one on the pile just because I had seen so many people buy it, and so many people rave about it, so I figured, why not?

I love how Palacio shows us the extreme kindness of humans and the extreme prejudices of them all in one go.  And it's not just kids who are the hurtful ones.  In fact, it was usually the parents who were extremely more hurtful than the kids were.

I like, too, that it shows us that despite best intentions, not everyone is perfect.  Via is probably one of my favorite characters, because it shows that despite loving her brother, fiercely loving her brother, she's still affected by his condition, to the point that she needs an out from it.

Like Alex, usually POV shifts drive me crazy, but this one was very well done.  There were POV shifts, but not so many, nor so frequent, that it detracted from the story.  It was a perfect compliment to it.

This really is an all ages book, and it's a fairly fast (though heavy) read.  This is definitely in the top five of favorites for the year.

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