It's a WONDER-ful Life
Auggie is hideously ugly. I’d tell you how, but it would ruin the book for you. Let’s just say people sometimes audibly gasp when they look at him. He’s used to it. But, it’s still hard on him when he goes to school for the first time ever, and middle school at that. As his sister’s boyfriend says, “Middle School is just about as tough as it gets.” Will he ever make any friends who see him for the really, rather normal boy that he actually is, despite his appearance? This is a coming of age story, not only for Auggie, but for the other characters in the book as well, which really gives the reader a memorable punch. Auggie might be ugly, but WONDER is a beautiful book.

Palacio uses many voices to tell Auggie’s story, and it works because she does it well. In a soft, subtle, but definite shift, she creates a montage-effect with each voice leaving the story a little bit further ahead than where the last person left off. More than her story-telling skill, I appreciated the “message” of the book. Choose kind. See humanity in the world around you. Choose to be more than kind sometimes, go out of your way to do it. I just watched the viral video of some middle school kids bullying a bus monitor yesterday, so this message renewed some of my hope. People really can be kind. The deal is, though, that sometimes this type of message gets schmaltzy and downright preachy, so it’s easy for readers to tune it out. I think that’s where this book will differ. Just when it’s getting too preachy, the voices change and the narrative barrels forward.

If you liked MOCKINGBIRD, SO B. IT, or any other novel that teaches us how to get along, you'll love WONDER.

Rating: 5 tissues.