Book Recommendation: Wonder by R.J. Palacio

I get a thrill every time I read a book that prods me to grow a bit, makes my day brighter or grants me a portal into a world different from mine. When a book does all three of those things it is a definite winner. It gets bonus point if I can share it with the young people in my life and watch it expand their horizons.

Wonder by R.J. Palacio is such a book. Since it came out in 2012, many of you have probably read it already and/or seen the movie version. I was a late-comer to the fan club since I tend towards classics, but I came across it recently and I want to share my delight.

Wonder tells the story of fifth-grader Auggie Pullman, a boy born with a severe craniofacial deformity. Because of health concerns and repeated operations he has never been to school, and now that is about to change. The book is divided into sections that tell of his entrance to school through his own eyes and then through the eyes of his “normal” sister, her boyfriend and her estranged  childhood friend, as well as from the perspectives of some of Auggie’s classmates, whose behaviors range from kind to bullying.

This book is more powerful than a hundred anti-bullying slogans or lectures. Aside from humanizing a boy who looks different, it respectfully shows the challenges of children (and adults) dealing with something drastically different from what they usually meet. The various perspectives provide a  tremendous opportunity to realize that others see the world differently than we do.

This book and its sequels are recommended for ages 8-12. I disagree. I would suggest ages 8 through adult. Certainly, it can be invaluable for teenagers. This would make a great book to discuss as a family, especially if parents can do more listening than talking. It is one of those books that we can only hope stays with us long after we finish reading it. 

6 thoughts on “Book Recommendation: Wonder by R.J. Palacio”

  1. Susan,
    I enjoy when you share some of the books you have read. I have been in a book club for 4 years. At first we read some great books and now we are having difficulty in finding books without terrible language and sexual intrigues. One I would recommend everyone to read is Two Old Women by Velma Wallis. However, that gets me off my point or should I say request. Would you consider posting a list of books that you have included in your musings? I enjoy your insights and recommendations.

    1. Lauren, thank you for sharing your suggestion. I have not read that book and will look for it. It is getting harder to find books that are acceptable, both for adults and for teens – and even for children. I will add your suggestion to a to-do list. Maybe someone will volunteer to search through Musings and Practical Parenting columns for ‘book’ and help compile one?

    1. There are quite a few sequels. I have very much enjoyed the two I read, but I think there are even more than that.

  2. What a beautifully written book! This book has been the ultimate favorite of both my kids. And still, it is! This book is not only written creatively but it also carries a heartwarming message. Bullying is undoubtedly a vital issue every kid has to face in a form of other. Books like these help our kids grow and make them turn into a better person.

    1. I agree, Austin. Books help us grow in so many ways including empathy for others. I have heard that the movie based on this book is also wonderful though I have not seen it myself.

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