Wonder by R.J. Palacio is a book about middle-school kids, probably written for middle-school kids, but is one that everyone should read.
Wonder is about August (Auggie) Pullman, who is 10 years old and is about to start school for the first time in his life. Auggie was born with severe facial deformities, and he and his family are justifiably anxious about how he will be received at school. The novel is told from alternating perspectives – Auggie especially; but also Jack, one of the kids asked to show him around the school before the first day; Summer, the only one who came to sit with Auggie at lunch his first day; Via, Auggie’s protective older sister who is struggling with her own entry into high school; and Justin, Via’s boyfriend.
It is a simply told story of Auggie’s first year at school, but it so well done. Auggie’s attempt to be strong in the face of how he is treated at school is so admirable and yet so heartbreaking when he can’t be brave all of the time. I kept thinking back to my own school days and though I don’t remember any kids with the physical challenges Auggie has I do remember that there were kids who for whatever petty reason were singled out to be avoided or picked on and I feel guilty for participating in any of that.
I have a 10 year-old nephew who is very much a rough and tumble boy but is also amazingly sweet and sensitive (yes, I do have some auntie bias) and I think I will give him this book because I know he will appreciate what it says.