Yesterday after work I read a fantastic book that I just have to share with you.
I picked up Wonder at my school’s library yesterday afternoon after a very long-feeling short day at work. (Yes, we had our 6th early dismissal of the year yesterday and our 7th today. OMG make the sun stop.) It is on the Iowa Teen Award list, and I’ve been bad this year not having read any of them yet so I thought I’d better get on that. For those of you unfamiliar, the Iowa Teen Award is a selection of about 15 books nominated each year by Iowa teens in grades 6-9. These are books teens love, but they also go through an adult reading committee to ensure the very best nominations make the final list. So yes, this is a Young Adult book, but I’d recommend it for anyone. I happen to love YA books after years in college and beyond being a bona fide book snob. Turns out, you can be book snob and still love YA. :)
Wonder is the story of Auggie Pullman, an almost eleven year-old with severe facial deformities going to school for the first time in his life. The book begins giving his perspective on “life as Auggie,”, and he is just so darn lovable right away. Author R.J. Palacio does an incredible job capturing the voice and reason of a kid his age entering junior high, navigating life as a normal pre-teen in every way but one. A very big one. You may not think you know what life would be like living like Auggie, but Palacio makes you believe that you do. Auggie was so believable to me.
The book gets even better when you get to hear from some of the other key players in Auggie’s story. We hear from his older sister, Via, and we learn how she has coped through the years with having her needs sometimes only halfway met. We hear from Auggie’s first friends, Summer and Jack, and learn what it is like to take a big chance and do something that might scare us. And we even hear from Via’s boyfriend and a best friend, who both give a special perspective on the Pullman family.
This book is really good, you guys. It’s a lovely reminder of the importance of empathy, kindness, friendship, and risk-taking — such good lessons at any age, you know? I will absolutely be recommending it to all my students this year, and I’ll probably buy it to force Charlotte to read when she’s older, too. (So in like two years.) And I said I read it yesterday, as in one day. There are about 300 pages, and it took me about three hours. We all got time for dat!
(IEven thought it’s a completely unique story, Wonder reminds me of Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper, which was on the ITA list last year. So read that one, too, while you’re at it.)