I know I’m not an ordinary ten-year-old kid. I mean, sure, I do ordinary things. I eat ice cream. I ride my bike. I play ball. I have an XBox. Stuff like that makes me ordinary, I guess. And I feel ordinary. Inside. But I know ordinary kids don’t make other ordinary kids run away screaming in playgrounds. I know ordinary kids don’t get stared at wherever they go.
Wonder, a MG realistic fiction book, received high acclaim and looked really good, so I was excited to read it. “August (Auggie) Pullman was born with a facial deformity that prevented him from going to a mainstream school—until now. He’s about to start 5th grade at Beecher Prep, and if you’ve ever been the new kid then you know how hard that can be. The thing is Auggie’s just an ordinary kid, with an extraordinary face. But can he convince his new classmates that he’s just like them, despite appearances? R. J. Palacio has written a spare, warm, uplifting story that will have readers laughing one minute and wiping away tears the next. With wonderfully realistic family interactions (flawed, but loving), lively school scenes, and short chapters, Wonder is accessible to readers of all levels.”
I feel really bad for not liking this one as much as a lot of other people. There are some valuable lessons in this book, and it’s certainly an uplifting story, but somehow the writing just didn’t resonate with me. I know that August is ten years old, but although he’s an intelligent child, he narrates like he’s about six. There are plenty of amazing middle grade novels that don’t feel kind of dumbed-down. I also wasn’t fond of the short chapters. They were annoying.
I do feel so cold-hearted for rating this book relatively poorly. Again, the premise was great, I just didn’t really like how it was executed. I kept waiting for it to get better, and it did, a little bit. But there were still some parts that made me wince because of their badness. Like when Auggie and Will are exchanging texts and they spell the word “again” like “agen”. I mean, what’s the point of that? Do people even really do that kind of abbreviation? Also, some of the things that happened and some of the ways that the characters talked did not seem like fifth-grade.
The technique of alternating perspectives was a bit off-putting at first, but eventually quite effective. The problem with it was that just as the reader is getting to know Auggie, the book starts being narrated by his older sister Via. And then it switches again. Still, it helps you get a variety of outlooks on the events.
In the end, I did enjoy Wonder; but I didn’t love it. It gets 3.5 stars, I would say. Still, it’s worth reading and is a fast read; I sped through it. And it was compelling; there were just so many little things that bothered me. Still, there were also some aspects that I liked.
310 pages, 3.5 stars.