WONDER by RJ Palacio Book Review
Publication Date: February 14th 2012 by Random House Children’s Books
Rating: – Exceeds Expectations |
Book Summary: I won’t describe what I look like. Whatever you’re thinking, it’s probably worse.
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.
Wonder by RJ Palacio Book Review Overview:
- Mostly told through Auggie’s perspective but also switches to the perspective of other characters
- Inspiring and touching story; Auggie is such a delightful character to read about
- Makes you think twice about how you act towards someone with a disability
There is always some hesitation in my part when picking up middle grade novels, because there’s always the chance where the novel is not as accessible to older readers. I didn’t have a problem with WONDER by R.J. Palacio in that aspect. I think that Palacio does a wonderful job of making her writing appeal to readers of all ages.
What surprised me the most about WONDER by R.J. Palacio is the impact it had on me in terms of my thinking of how I act towards someone with a disability or a handicap. Auggie is such an inspiring character to read about. His life is hard – there’s no doubt about that. And it made me sad to read about him. But Auggie is such a fighter and he tries so hard no matter how many obstacles get in his way. Auggie made me put my problems into perspective. My problems seemed so petty in comparison to the life that he lives. Furthermore, WONDER by RJ Palacio made me think about how I conduct myself in public. WONDER will make me think twice next time I see someone with a disability or a handicap.
At first, I wasn’t sure how I felt about the switching perspectives throughout the novel. For the most part, the novel is told from Auggie’s point of view, but randomly switches to other characters such as his friends. My dislike for the multiple perspectives was short-lived; I fell in love with Palacio’s writing style and I loved seeing Auggie from other people’s eyes. My love for him as a character grew even more.
The ending of WONDER by RJ Palacio gave me such a warm and fuzzy feeling. As a reader, I felt like I grew so much with Auggie on this emotional roller coaster. His character was developed so well throughout the book and I wanted to give him a massive congratulatory hug at the end.
WONDER by RJ Palacio is the kind of middle grade novel that should be read by all. It’s not just a “children’s” book.
About the Author
RJ Palacio lives in New York City with her husband, two sons, and two dogs. For many years, Palacio was an art director and book jacket designer, designing covers for countless well-known and not so well-known writers in every genre of fiction and nonfiction. She always wanted to write, though. So Palacio decided to just go for it. Wonder is her first novel. And no, she didn’t design the cover, but she sure does love it.
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Summary: Some people spend their whole lives looking for the right partner. Nate Schaper found his in high school. In the eight months since their cautious flirting became a real, honest, tell-the-parents relationship, Nate and Adam have been inseparable. Even when local kids take their homophobia to brutal levels, Nate is undaunted. He and Adam are rock solid. Two parts of a whole. Yin and yang.
But when Adam graduates and takes an Off-Broadway job in New York—at Nate’s insistence—that certainty begins to flicker. Nate starts a blog to vent his frustrations and becomes the center of a school controversy, drawing ire and support in equal amounts. But it is the attention of a new boy who is looking for more than guidance that forces him to confront who and what he really wants.
Book Review Overview:
- Heart-wrenching tale that will make you cry and laugh
- Perfectly flawed characters that are so realistic, so inspiring
- You don’t have to be gay, lesbian, bisexual, or whatever to read this. Whatever your sexuality is, you will relate.
I didn’t believe the hype before I picked up this book. I needed one more book to read in 2011, and Brent urged me to pick up J.H. Trumble’s DON’T LET ME GO. I already knew that Brent was a massive fan of the book, and since I was in the mood for a contemporary novel, I asked Brent to Lend Me his ebook copy of the novel. I read this in less than 24 hours in two sittings. It’s one of those books where I had to force myself to put it down and go to bed.
Trumble is such a talented writer. I loved the alternation between past and present because it gave a lot of insight on how Nate and Adam’s relationship started and progressed. Furthermore, Trumble has that rare ability to make you cry in one paragraph and laugh out loud in the next. I urge you strongly not to read this in public; your reaction may cause other people to give you weird looks.
DON’T LET ME GO is relatable to everyone because the basis of the novel is the relationship between Nate and Adam. It doesn’t matter that the main characters are gay because the characters are so easy to relate to. Trumble puts you in Adam’s shoes and you feel his heart break. Like Nate, as much as I wanted to trust Adam, I just couldn’t do it. A million different scenarios ran in my mind about all the things that Adam could do to hurt Nate while he was in New York City. I didn’t want to think the worst of Adam, but Trumble made it so difficult not to. In addition to Adam, Nate is also so flawed which made him even more realistic. He’s not perfect either, but he works to make himself a better person. Nate has trust issues and he has to learn to accept that people won’t judge him based on his past. Trumble creates such realistic characters and brilliantly captures what it is like to be in a long distant relationship including the insecurities, trust issues, and the reunions.
Furthermore, DON’T LET ME GO reminded me on how lucky I was to live in a liberal area and have attended such a liberal school. It reminded me that there are teens out there who are not so lucky and who do not have the freedom to be who they want to be. Nate is such an inspiring character to read about because despite the fact that he was bullied and abused, it does not stop him from standing up for what he believes in. He’s inspiring not only to the teens in the novel but also to teens reading the novel. Nate made me want to do something to help gay teens who live in more conservative areas.
I’d highly recommend DON’T LET ME GO to those who are fans of David Levithan’s novels and bittersweet contemporaries. I highly urge you to support this fantastic author and buy this book.
Why I’m Biased: I was influenced by two reviews raving DON’T LET ME GO, written by Ecey and Brent!
About the Author
J.H. Trumble is a Texas native and graduate of Sam Houston State University. You can visit the author online at http://jhtrumble.com and on Facebook and Twitter.
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Summary: Budding designer Lola Nolan doesn’t believe in fashion . . . she believes in costume. The more expressive the outfit — more sparkly, more fun, more wild — the better. But even though Lola’s style is outrageous, she’s a devoted daughter and friend with some big plans for the future. And everything is pretty perfect (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the dreaded Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, return to the neighborhood.
When Cricket — a gifted inventor — steps out from his twin sister’s shadow and back into Lola’s life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door.
- Lola + Cricket = lots of great chemistry that you don’t want to miss
- Culturally diverse set of secondary characters; they are so much fun to read about
- Anna > Lola but still a great book that YOU MUST READ
I think it’s safe to say that LOLA AND THE BOY NEXT DOOR was my most anticipated book of 2011. Stephanie Perkins is at the top of my list of authors to watch. After reading Anna and the French Kiss earlier this year, I could not wait to read more of her work. I was so happy to have snagged a copy of the hardcover at my favorite bookstore, the Strand, before the release date.
The characters are so colorful in LOLA AND THE BOY NEXT DOOR. Lola is a delight to read about. Always dolled up in a different costume each day, Lola Nolan stands out from the crowd. She’s not afraid of what others think and she dresses the way she wants. And of course, there’s the Boy Next Door. Cricket Bell used to be her neighbor, and Lola felt like her world is coming apart when she hears that he is moving back next door. A budding inventor, Cricket is intelligent and kind. He has the quirky fashion sense to match Lola.
I feel like with these kinds of stories, you have a vague idea of how it’s going to end before you even pick up the book. But it doesn’t matter because the beginning, middle, and climax of the story are the most fun to read about anyway. Lola and Cricket do have a past (and emotional baggage), so the progression of the romance is a lot different from Anna and the French Kiss. There is definitely great chemistry between the two characters.
Speaking of emotional baggage, LOLA is a more serious book than Anna. Serious in a way that Lola deals a lot with heavy issues such as her biological mother and her past with Cricket. While the book was still entertaining as a whole, I just didn’t find myself laughing as much as I did when I read Anna.
The secondary characters are the icing to the cake. From Lola’s fathers (yes, fathers) to her quirky co-workers, the novel would not have been the same without them. Furthermore, I love the diversity in Lola and the Boy Next Door. Maybe I just don’t read enough stories about California, but I feel like Perkins wrote such an accurate portrayal of the culturally diverse population of California. I think it’s definitely one of the things that stood out for me when I visited the Bay Area and I’m glad that Perkins portrayed it in her novel.
Stephanie Perkins is a wonderful writer. I’ve only been to San Francisco a few times, so I had a vague idea of where Lola lived, but Perkins’s writing just makes the setting come alive. I felt like I was transported to the West Coast. I really felt like I was strolling along the streets of San Francisco with Lola and Cricket.
Shall I compare LOLA to Anna? Well, if I must… I have to say that I still prefer Anna. Why? Mostly because of Cricket and Lola. I’ve pretty much said that I did enjoy their characters a lot, but if I had to compare them to Etienne and Anna, they just don’t match up. Why? Well, Etienne is a Boy Masterpiece. He has a British accent!!!! And Anna is just a lot more like me than Lola is. I was just able to relate so much more to Anna. Lola just has this certain self confidence that both Anna and I lack. She can pretty much snag a guy if she really wants, whereas Anna is socially awkward in the romance department like I am. I could definitely see myself more in Anna’s shoes than Lola’s.
The reason why I still love Anna more than LOLA is definitely a personal reason. Based on the reviews I’ve read, I am probably in the minority who believe that Stephanie Perkins’s debut is better than her sophomore novel.
I’m pretty sure that I can ramble on forever about LOLA AND THE BOY NEXT DOOR and I think that’s reason enough for you to go buy it. Read it so we can have a never-ending debate. I’m more than sure you’ll enjoy LOLA AND THE BOY NEXT DOOR if you loved Anna and the French Kiss, boys, San Francisco, California in general, costumes, sparkly things, fashion, and kissing. Oh, and Alexander Graham Bell.
Well, I just made this sound like the girliest book ever, but if you’re a boy, please don’t let my review stop you from picking it up. Stephanie Perkins is a really great writer. Read this.
About the Author
Stephanie Perkins writes novels for teens (and for adults who aren’t afraid to admit that teen books are awesome). She was born in South Carolina, raised in Arizona, attended universities in San Francisco and Atlanta, and now lives in the mountains of North Carolina amidst the waterfalls and wild blueberries.
Her best friend is also her husband, Jarrod, and he’s the most wonderful person she knows. Every room of their house is painted a different color of the rainbow. They share it with two elderly pups and a pesky cat named Mr. Tumnus.
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