Emirates Literature Foundation Blog (ELF)

Book Review: Wonder By R.J. Palacio

By: Aditi Gandhi and Aaditya Gandhi

‘’When given the choice between being right or being kind choose kind.”

Every once in a while, a book comes along that is more than just a good story from a talented author and has the power to change the lives of the people who read it.

Wonder, R.J. Palacio's debut novel, is a truly memorable story of compassion and courage. It centres around a ten-year-old boy August Pullman who is living in a world that’s not used to people looking different. A brilliantly written book, it is perceptively themed around crucial issues of identity, bullying and friendship.

Auggie, as he is fondly called, has had 27 surgeries to correct the facial deformities he was born with, but still has features which look like they’ve been melted, like the drippings on a candle. After being home-schooled for years, August is about to start fifth grade, but he’s worried: How will he fit into mainstream school life when he looks so different from everyone else? 

As August finally takes the big leap, the story focusses on the continual torment and ridicule that he encounters in school. Even though he cannot walk down the corridor without being the subject of stares and cruel nicknames, he’s an endearing boy who’s smart, kind and brave. Manoeuvring through his first year of school

Wonder is a fascinating and emotional book. Though it is recommended for children aged 8 through 12 years, the central theme of acceptance makes it an interesting read for a wide audience. A unique aspect of the book is the fact that it has been told from the point of view of different characters which is a really effective and engaging way to tell the story. With a touching and heart wrenching storyline, Wonder embodies the message of tolerance, empathy and respect through remarkable storytelling and incredible characterization.  

Wonder has won several awards and a film based on the book was also released in 2017. The true power of the book lies in how such a likeable relatable character with a good sense of humour strives on despite facing daunting challenges. Palacio most certainly succeeds in presenting a moving tale showcasing the immense power of inclusivity and equality. It has reiterated what we all can do to create a better world, the most important being protecting and empowering others through understanding, accepting and appreciating their differences. Readers prepare to be amazed with heart-warming words of advice that will undoubtedly leave you with many enjoyable moments and a few happy tears.

Written by Aditi Gandhi and Aaditya Gandhi.