Wonder: A Review

9780375869020 Wonder: A ReviewIf you haven’t yet read Wonder, by R.J. Palacio, you should run, not walk, to your nearest indie bookseller or library, find it, and read it. It’s about a boy named August Pullman who is born with a rare genetic disorder that has caused severe facial abnormalities.

“I won’t describe what I look like,” Auggie tells us in the first chapter. “Whatever you’re thinking, it’s probably worse.”

According to Auggie’s sister, the nature of his problem is “a previously unknown type of mandibulofacial dysostosis, complicated by a hemifacial microsoma.”

It’s a remarkable book, hardly a bit depressing, and much more uplifting and inspiring. It’s got a lot of themes, among them, familial love, and the power of kindness.

As it happens, I’m also reading the new (nonfiction, adult) book by Andrew Solomon, Far From the Tree. It’s about families coping with deafness, dwarfism, Down syndrome, autism, schizophrenia, multiple severe disabilities, transgender–even prodigies. Solomon uses the term “horizontal identities” to describe kids who are very different from their parents, in any number of ways.

97807432367132 465x707 Wonder: A ReviewAlthough Solomon’s book recounts much heartache and many tragic stories, it’s also about the triumphs of love, about parents who love their children despite their children’s so-very-different identities. His thesis is that diversity is what unites us all. And Wonder is a beautiful evocation of that theme. Auggie’s family is certainly a fictionalized version of some of the families Solomon describes.

As I was doing some image research for an upcoming book, I stumbled across this picture, and I immediately thought about Auggie. 222365300321422281 yR8fg42F Wonder: A ReviewAlthough I tried to research the picture’s origins, I don’t know anything about it. One description I can’t authenticate says the two women are sisters, and that may well be true. By the style of the dresses, I am guessing it was taken in the 1870s or thereabouts. I suspect the woman on the left has a similar condition to Auggie’s. But if you can look past her dreadful affliction, it’s really a rather sweet picture. They’re holding hands, and the woman on the right has her arm around the other. Her expression looks warm and loving–in itself remarkable for any 19th century photo, when people rarely showed much emotion. I highly recommend reading Wonder, and, if you’re up for a very long grownup book, Far From the Tree as well. You’ll never look at the world the same way again.

23 Comments

    • Sarah

      Thanks for stopping by Wendy–it’s hard to read a book that’s been so hyped, I know, but I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

      Reply
  1. Heather Newman

    Wonder sounds excellent and I’ve been meaning to pick up Far From the Tree after hearing about it on NPR. Thank you for the reminder and recommendation!

    Reply
  2. Cathy Mealey

    I loved WONDER – gave several copies over the holidays to people who love or have special children. Also heard the NPR interview with Andrew Solomon – what an interesting term “horizontal identities”! On my TBR list.

    Reply
  3. CS Perryess

    “You’ll never look at the world the same way again.”
    Great line, & isn’t that what all authors are trying to do? I teach middle school & one of the best moments in my 32 year career was when one of my 8th graders blasted into my room before school started, clutching a book to her chest, saying, “This book changed the way I see the world!” It doesn’t get any better than that. The book was Carol Plum-Ucci’s What Happened to Lani Garver. Palacio’s Wonder has been on my list for a while. Thanks for suggesting I move it up on the heap.

    Reply
  4. Lori Norman

    Sarah, thank you for reviewing both of these books. I missed the interview on NPR, so I’m glad to see what you’ve written here. I will definitely read these books and the one C S Perryess mentioned above.

    Reply
  5. Beth

    Both books are on my list; Wonder because everyone has recommended it and Far From the Tree because my cousin helped edit it. She also recced it.

    Reply
  6. Mary

    Wonder is amazing, isn’t it? Thanks for this terrific review – need to move Far from the Tree up my TBR list now!

    Reply
  7. Katrina

    I’ve been thinking about reading Wonder for quite awhile, but was hesitant because I was afraid it was going to be sad (not that I don’t read sad books, but I just hadn’t been up for that kind of read recently). Having read your post (and all of the other comments), I’m looking forward to reading it–it sounds like an amazing book!

    Reply
    • Sarah

      I know just what you mean, Katrina. It did make me cry, but in an “oh this is such a beautiful book” kind of way.

      Reply
  8. Michelle Cusolito

    I loved WONDER. Just amazing. And that photo you posted is so interesting. Is there any way to find our more about the women? Or have you exhausted all of the options?

    Reply
    • Sarah

      I found the photo on pinterest, and contacted the person who posted it for more information, but she didn’t respond. I felt OK posting it, as it’s an old photo and therefore in the public domain, but no, I haven’t found out anything further. I’d love to, sometime.

      Reply
  9. Ousna (not telling my real last name)

    I don’t want to be mean but the photo is photo shopped and you can tell by looking at the face,somebody drew the face but if it were real it would be cutein fact it would be adorable.I am eleven years old and I’m reading Wonder with my teacher and it’s REALLY GOOD!!!!!! If it were a movie,I would buy A MILLION COPIES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!LEGIT ONE MILLION COPIES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Bye!

    Reply
    • Sarah

      Hi Ousna–thanks for commenting. You may be right. It is very hard to tell with photos nowadays. I suppose if we showed it to an expert he/she could probably determine. I still think it is real, but I don’t know for sure. But I’m glad you are reading with a skeptical eye. I am also glad you loved Wonder. I loved it, too.

      Reply

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