Author: R. J. Palacio
Enjoyment Rating: ****
Content Alert: a fairly clean read
Several years ago, our family adopted a baby girl with a cleft lip and palate. While we were wading through red tape and waiting to meet her, I read all of the books I could about kids with cleft lip and palate. There were quite a few boring non-fiction books, a few truly awful memoirs (shudder), and other than Precious Bane, no fiction that I could find. In Wonder, fifth-grader August Pullman has a facial deformity (including a cleft lip and palate). His parents have home schooled him, but now that he’s old enough to go to middle school, the family has decided that he will attend a school nearby.
While this story could easily be sappy or depressing, what interested me most about Wonder was not Auggie’s story itself, but how Palacio makes him just one of a whole cast of characters. We hear from his sister, her sister’s friends, the kids who bully him and the kids who learn to become his friends despite what he looks like. My daughter’s class was reading the book at school at the same time I was reading it at home and I think it was a great story for both of us. This book helps readers see that kids with disabilities are, at heart, just normal kids, with normal feelings and desires, like someone to sit with them at the lunch table at school.