“Wonder:” about a kid with an anomaly, without facial symmetry.

R.J. Palacio’s youth novel, Wonder,  burst upon the school book scene a couple of years ago, leaving middle grade kids to ponder such statements as— 

  • “You can’t blend in when you were born to stand out.”
  • “Choose to be kind, not right.” (a phrase the author borrowed from Wayne Dyer and altered a bit.)
  • “Everyone deserves a standing ovation, at least once in their lives.” (Channeling Warhol and :15 of fame?) 
Cartoon face withjust one eye, no other facial features, on blue background.

Bookcover for “Wonder

   

 

 

 

 

 

 Craniofacial anomalies, no facial symmetry——Auggie’s lot.

In her bestseller, Palacio tells the story of Auggie, a tough, sweet, 10-year-old boy, who was born with distorted facial features — a “craniofacial difference” caused by an anomaly in his DNA. Auggie’s face is like nothing anyone has ever seen. Like a screaming and running away kind of face. He takes comfort in wearing a toy space helmet much of the time.  He has always been home schooled before and so faces social challenges as he begins 5th grade at Beecher Prep. 

Bullies are an important part of Auggie’s story–Julian in particular. He can’t resist picking on Auggie. A verbal and social bully, Julian’s never physically threatening to Auggie. (Others are, but more info might spoil the story.) Julian’s mother probably role modeled bullying at home. She’s got clout in the parent community and writes letters to the the Beecher Prep’s director encouraging Auggie’s removal. She even photoshops Auggie out of class pictures.

SPOILER ALERT. Ultimately, the school turns against Julian by accepting Auggie. Julian is marginalized for his behavior while Auggie is celebrated.  At the end of the year, Julian leaves the school.  

” Wonder” is written from multiple points of view (POV). We learn Auggie’s story from the POV of some of these main characters:

  • August Pullman: The protagonist, afflicted by “mandibulofacial dysotosis”/no facial symmetry.
  •  Olivia “Via” Pullman: Auggie’s older sister.
  • Summer Dawson: One of Auggie’s first friends. 
  • Isabel and Nate Pullman: August and Via’s parents. 
  • Jack Will: August’s best friend. 
  • Julian: The primary antagonist. 
  • Justin: Via’s boyfriend. 
  • Miranda: Via’s friend.  

In the next blog, more about “Wonder,” info about the author, and reader reactions to the book.

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To learn about Cleft Heart: Chasing Normal, click the nearby Amazon or Barnes & Noble buttons in the margins. Or click the image of the book cover. My coming-of-age memoir has intertwining love stories, mystery, tragedy, and triumph.
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