WONDER by R.J. Palacio (is my Boyfriend)


So I’m obviously not the target audience for middle grade novel Wonder. My braces have been off for well over a decade and my bangs are no longer a scary web of evil that will turn your soul to ash if you stare at them for too long.

That’s the thing about Wonder though. Yes it is technically a middle grade novel for middle grade readers but you can be in your twenties or your fifties or probably in your hundred and teens and still eat this book up with a spoon and a fork.

I read this book while I was abroad this summer. Actually I read this book TWICE. Once on my plane ride to Bogota, then again on plane ride back to Los Angeles. I am not a big re-reader, you guys. Like, I’ll read To Kill a Mockingbird every five years but that’s basically it. And I read this book twice in the span of three weeks. TWICE. THREE. WEEKS. YOU GUYS.

So let’s Synopsis Gadget this sucker. We haven’t used the Synopsis Gadget in a while. It’s collecting dust in a corner of my closet. It thinks I hate it. I don’t, Synopsis Gadget, I don’t! Do your thing! Synopsize!

Wonder tells the story of Auggie Pullman, a boy born with a severe facial anomaly that causes people, upon first encounter, to often gasp/shriek/ run the other way. Other than that, he’s normal, he tells us so in the first few pages (Auggie is one of the several rotating young narrators of the story). Wonder is the the story of Auggie’s year in fifth grade, a milestone because due to his anomaly, he has up until now been homeschooled. Told from the point of view of Auggie, his classmates, his sister Via (in her first year of high school) and her classmates, Wonder is a story about how life is not fair and how all we can do is try our best to make it as fair as we possibly can. It is a story about the value of humor in impossible situations, and the transformative power of kindness.

You guys, I started tearing up toward the end of that last paragraph. No, not because my own writing makes me cry. You guys, come on. It’s just because remembering the book makes my mascara automatically start running. You know that cliche “This (fill in the blank thing) made me laugh and cry.” You know that cliche? I’m going to have to start taking that cliche seriously because Wonder did that to me, like a dozen times over.

I have very few quibbles with this book. The structure is elegant, the scenework is great, the voices are pitch perfect. There’s a lot of pop culture references (Auggie is a big sci-fi geek, Star Wars is his jam to end all jams) and I get the importance of the references, but sometimes they grated a little. Also there was this scene where Auggie and his sister Via were really going to have a knock-down throw-down about the fact that Via was reluctant for people at her new school to meet her brother and forever associate her with his anomaly, but things were prevented from getting too ugly by a dramatically-compelling-but-still-too-convenient deus ex  machina. I get it, it’s a middle school novel, age appropriateness, whatever, but the book is so honest and stripped down so much of the time I wish this section hadn’t felt like it was taking a step back from the issue at hand

But I love this book. I read it twice in three weeks. Look. I read some GREAT books this summer. Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk and Gone Girl? Please, bitch. Reading doesn’t get much more fun than that.

And still I think Wonder was my favorite book this summer. And I think it’s going to be one of my favorite books of the year.


He has hang-ups about the way he looks  and doesn’t want to take a picture of our date so he hides under a blanket.

I take the blanket away and he finds a pillow to hide behind.

I make him take a picture with me, but it’s a kissing picture so he knows how handsome I think his heart is.

9 Comments on “WONDER by R.J. Palacio (is my Boyfriend)”

  1. BermudaOnion says:

    I adored this book as well. I thought it was wonderful the way Palacio showed silence can be just as hurtful as mean words.

  2. Nikki Steele says:

    Oh goodness, it sounds like the sweetest little nugget. Thanks for the review and kissing shots.

  3. Auggie was such a sweetheart, wasn’t he? I just wanted to smush him and give him an enormous hug and then take him out for ice cream. WITH SPRINKLES. And I wanted to squish some of his classmates, because I was totally getting a noble bully-crushing thing going on and getting ANGRY. Lovely lovely book, which should immediately be made required reading for every single school-age individual out there, because these things MATTER.
    P.S. To be fair, I’d probably hide behind a cushion if someone tried to take a picture of me too, so… I gotta give a nod to the dude on that one.

  4. Great review! Thanks for posting about this book, although I think it might be a little too sad for me. I get so attached to little mugwumps… :’-(

  5. This book sounds amazing! I used to teach 5th grade so I have read a lot of (and still read) YA books, and I am exciting to read “Wonder”!

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