Wonder by R.J. Palacio
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
August was born with mandibulofacial dysosyosis and a few other problems and looks, well, different. He's also very smart and very funny, and he's 10. During the summer he learns that his mother and father have decided that perhaps now he should start school, rather than continuing to be homeschooled. Starting fifth grade at Beecher Prep will be a challenge in more ways than one, as his looks make the initial "getting to know you" part difficult, plus the idea of learning with others at a set pace? He's not happy.
From the beginning, Augie's voice is very real. It's not relentlessly upbeat, it's realistically filled with ups and downs, and his moments of true despair were ones where I, too, would have despaired. The other voices we hear are not always as real, particularly Justin's and Miranda's. Miranda's decisions didn't always make sense (of course, what we day and do as we attempt to reinvent ourselves in a new place aren't always the most thought-out decisions! on the other hand, the play...) and Justin's virtual lack of reaction to Augie just didn't quite seem right. Summer and Jack, on the other hand, were almost as pitch-perfect as Augie.
The turning point in Augie's first year of "real" school comes as a surprise, and again it seems just a little bit off. Not what happens, but the aftermath back in school and the graduation celebration.
Still, those are minor quibbles. Over all, this is a book I'm guessing we'll hear more about during book award season.
Copy provided by publisher.