Personally, I think Wonder deserves all 5 out of 5 stars. The book is captivating, the character development is well done b/c you find yourself really understanding how they are feeling about situations they are experiencing, and the storyline is unique (though a tad predictable, but in a good happy predictable way).
Most literary reviews are saying this book is for 3rd through 7th graders, but I would disagree. I think as far as writing level and content being clean is concerned 3rd grade works, however the comprehension of situations is above. I truly don't think (unless a child is extremely mature) an elementary school student would really understand the feelings the characters (and the different narrators) are expressing. Personally, I would say middle school student, at the youngest, would be the ideal reader. I think high school students and adults really capture the deeper emotions from the narrators, and I think those deeper emotions that allow the reader to relate to the characters is really what makes this book 5 stars. The deeper the emotions you understand the more inspiring and thought provoking the book is. However, I do think an elementary student would capture the need to be kind to all, but this book is still best for the older audience.
I do think this book would bring about great discussions in a middle school or high school classroom if a teacher wanted to have it be a novel study. This could be a great beginning of the year read aloud/novel study to really get the kids thinking about how we treat others.
There are parts in the book that I felt Palacio did quite well. On page 72 Palacio references the cheese touch in Diary of a Wimpy Kid. I love that she reference that, and I also love that reference from a teacher stand point. Teachers are always trying to get kids to make text to text connections, and this perfectly gives you a text to text connection. Great example.
On page 73, August makes a point to say that he wishes we could all wear masks all the time so people can get to know each other before they see how we look. I think that is a valid thought. I always knew looks were important, but someone like August would really understand how much of a role looks really do play.
Throughout the book you get to hear parts of the story through various points of view. You start and end with August as the narrator, but then you get to hear Via (Olivia) his sister, his friends, her friends, and even Via's boyfriend. During Via's narration I really came to understand her perspective and how situations that siblings experience really do change the other siblings. The other siblings really does have to adapt, and sometimes adapting so much or all of the time is hard. Via was always known for her brother, people didn't know her for her. That is tough. Plus, her parents had to focus so much attention and energy on her brother. Via understood why, but that still doesn't make it easier. She had a tough life as well, but it was just tough in a different way. In her short narration there were more examples, and situations that really opened the readers eyes to how August's situation impacted and affected (for good and not always so great) a small community of people.
Overall, I love how Palacio described things. Her description of a snow day and the emotions felt on that special day to the way August felt about getting hearing aids and what he thought when he could first hear certain sounds was very well written. Palacio wrote about all those thoughts, emotions, excitements, and frustrations very realistically. Realistic writing like that really allow a reader to connect to the text.
I was reading a couple of reviews on Amazon and there was a woman saying her child has a facial deformity like August and the many emotions, thoughts, and feelings he has had are spot on to the way this woman's child has felt, thought, etc. This woman goes on to say that she was surprised Palacio doesn't have a child with this deformity b/c she wrote it so well. Just another example of how emotionally realistic this book is.
All in all, this book is well written. It impacts you as a reader in many different ways and areas. I am excited to discuss this book with my book club, and I would love to hear any of your thoughts as well.
Near the end of the book when August was at his sister's play he mentions that everyone should receive a standing ovation at least once in their life. Then, at the end of the book August's Precept to his English teacher (a summer assignment) says, "Everyone in the world should get a standing ovation at least once in their life b/c we all overcometh the world." I have to love that thought. I think it's true. We all overcome our own Goliath, and how great would a standing ovation feel?!
On that happy note...
Amazon had the following book description:
"I won't describe what I look like. Whatever you're thinking, it's probably worse.
August Pullman was born with a facial deformity that, up until now, has prevented him from going to a mainstream school. Starting 5th grade at Beecher Prep, he wants nothing more than to be treated as an ordinary kid—but his new classmates can’t get past Auggie’s extraordinary face. WONDER, now a #1 New York Times bestseller and included on the Texas Bluebonnet Award master list, begins from Auggie’s point of view, but soon switches to include his classmates, his sister, her boyfriend, and others. These perspectives converge in a portrait of one community’s struggle with empathy, compassion, and acceptance.
"Wonder is the best kids' book of the year," said Emily Bazelon, senior editor at Slate.com and author of Sticks and Stones: Defeating the Culture of Bullying and Rediscovering the Power of Character and Empathy. In a world where bullying among young people is an epidemic, this is a refreshing new narrative full of heart and hope. R.J. Palacio has called her debut novel “a meditation on kindness” —indeed, every reader will come away with a greater appreciation for the simple courage of friendship. Auggie is a hero to root for, a diamond in the rough who proves that you can’t blend in when you were born to stand out."
Have you read it? What did you think?