“Kinder than is necessary. Because it’s not enough to be kind. One should be kinder than needed.”
― R.J. Palacio, Wonder
August Pullman looks a little different than the other kids around him but Auggie is an oridinary boy. He likes Star Wars, he’s makes good grades in school (especially science!), and he just wants to make friends. So why do people stare at him and act like they will catch something if they touch him? This is why Auggie is more than a little apprehensive about starting his 5th grade year at Beecher Prep. What will the other kids think of him? And how will he interact with them?
I read this class because we’re reading it with our 7th graders once the school year starts. This isn’t normally a book I would be drawn to. Usually novels touching on subjects like this, I avoid. It’s normally too serious for me and there’s no fantasy in it.
I was pleasantly surprised with this one though. Although some parts were serious, it was filled with a lot of love, kindness, and different ways of approaching Auggie’s tough situation. I love how his condition did not hinder him in the least bit. It made him kind and he had a good attitude about everything. If anything, he made the best friends he could have just by being him. He found good people who were not judgemental and opened the eyes to many more people who were not so nice to him in the beginning. It’s not that most people wanted to be mean to Auggie, they didn’t understand and that lack of understanding made some of them fear him, in a way, when they first met him. But after spending some time with Auggie and getting to know him, most people realized he’s just like everyone else, he just looks a little different. I think Auggie helped everyone around him become more open-minded, not just to him but probably people who they will meet in the future who look different, or seem different.
Auggie, is 10 in the beginning of this book. I wasn’t sure how my 7th graders would connect with this book with the character being 2 or 3 years younger than them. But after reading the book, I think this novel is for kids of all ages. It’s an easy read and has a message that I think every person needs to understand. That it’s important to be kind, and to realize not everyone is made from the same cookie cutter, and that’s okay! Especially middle school kids in 7th and 8th grade. Preteens and teens are notorious for not being the nicest people. They’re in that awkward phase where fitting in is the most important thing in their life. And sometimes, unfortunately, those kids will tear others down to make themselves look and feel better. This novel tackles things like bullying directly and indirect bullying.
Bullying, or name calling/being actively mean to a person for selfish reasons is bad enough. What some kids don’t know that indirect bullying can be just as bad. Such as standing by and not saying anything when a person is being bullied, or accidentally saying something that is insensitive. And sometimes people do say mean things by accident, and accidents happen but it’s important to remember to be present in conversations and to think about how you would feel if the situation were reversed.
One of the biggest aspect of this book is point of view. Going into this novel, I thought it would all be from Auggie’s perspective. But then the POV switches to Auggie’s older sister Via, then his friends, etc. It’s from all the perspectives of the children in the novel. I think that was a brilliant way to go about this book. It shows how each person copes with Auggie’s condition. You can see how some people are timid at first, some are super scared of offending him, some are embarrassed to be seen talking to him at first, and some don’t care at all!
My favorite POV was Via’s. Via is a special person. She never cared about the way Auggie looked until high school. And due to his struggles, she feels as if she has been put on the backburner by her parents. She doesn’t seem resentful about it, she seems like a very understanding teenager. But once she starts high school she becomes her own person. She meets all these new people who don’t know anything about her little brother with his “deformity” as some of the kids use to call it while she was growing up. She starts to reflect on how she’s just “Olivia” now and not “that girl who has the deformed brother.” I think this just makes her want to be more of an individual and to discover who SHE is as a person outside of her family. After awhile, she starts to feel a little apprehensive about Auggie coming to school to see her play at school and doesn’t want her classmates to see him. Her boyfriend and estranged best friend help her see that it’s not important. She realizes that she should be thankful to have such an awesome little brother and is ashamed of how she acted.
This entire novel is a learning experience for the characters and the reader. It actually stemmed from a learning experience of the author. Palacio says she went to an ice cream shop with her kids one day and they ran into a little girl similar to Auggie and her and her children left the shop to avoid the situation. (Most people are worried about what their kids will say in that situation due to lack of a filter.) Looking back on that day, Palacio says she wish she would have stayed and talked to the little girl with her kids and that this little girl inspired her to write Auggie’s story because she knew most people probably ran away from this sweet girl for artificial reasons.
I gave this novel 5/5 stars. I’ve never read a novel that did such an amazing job of spreading awareness to such a touchy subject that most people would rather avoid. I think kids and adults alike should read this book and get to know Auggie.
I love this book trailer. I thought y’all might like it too 🙂