By: R.J. Palacio
I recently had a discussion about this book with a close colleague of mine and after finding out the age of the main character I was ready to side with her and dismiss the book altogether. Then, I had a student of mine give a book talk on it that instantly pulled myself and many students in the class under the “Wonder” spell. I knew that the book had a great message, but was pleasantly surprised with some other factors.
In this text, the author switches off between various characters perspectives. Yes, some of them include 5th graders who are just starting middle school, but also vary between high school students, one being the main character’s sister. Since the main character, August (Auggie) is just starting middle school, I do indeed think that a lot of what he and his classmates face is relevant to our middle school students, despite the age difference.
Back to the storyline: August has a facial deformity and has undergone many surgeries throughout his lifetime, that have left his face and features unlike what most people would consider to be “normal.” You see Auggie’s struggle as he tries to overcome the stares, nasty comments, and the general drama that students undertake during middle school. All the while, you see how being friends and even related to Auggie has affected others around him.
I believe this book has a great message that many middle school students can connect to. It made me think a lot to put
myself in their shoes, not only of Auggie and all that he dealt with, but the other characters as well. The way the book was written really allows for a lot of self-reflection and discovery along the way.