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There’s no need to ‘Wonder’ what to read next

For many of us, reading books has been a huge help in busting the boredom of being in a global pandemic. I, for one, have been doing my fair share of reading over the past year. I’d like to share with you a good book that I read recently – Wonder by R.J Palacio.

The book introduces us to August, a boy who is starting school for the first time as a fifth grader with a severe facial difference. There are lots of aspects of his life that are affected by this difference, from making friends to the dreaded school photos. The story is primarily told from August’s point of view, though it sometimes takes a dive into the lives of people around him, like his sister Via and his friend Summer. 

In a global pandemic, it can be easy to sit around waiting for all the restrictions to be over rather than seeing the small but awesome wonders around you, and a book celebrating these things is a fantastic find

I picked up this book because I’d heard about it quite a lot, notably when it was turned into a film in 2017 (which I am yet to watch, as I’m one of those people who has to read the book before watching the film). Also, I tend to prefer books that describe a person’s everyday life over a murder mystery or a book containing a complicated fantasy world (although Harry Potter would have to be an exception to that rule, of course). I think there is so much beauty in a book that sees everyday life as something worth writing about. In a global pandemic, it can be easy to sit around waiting for all the restrictions to be over rather than seeing the small but awesome wonders around you, and a book celebrating these things is a fantastic find. 

So I read the book, and I have to say that I was pretty impressed, especially by the cool dialogue. For me, the character’s conversations were the highlight of the book; they really helped me imagine the characters as real people with their own distinctive turns of phrase and wacky senses of humour. Another aspect I liked was the use of different perspectives. Often, the new narrator would go over some of the events mentioned in the previous narrator’s account, give their account of what happened, then carry on with the story. If you’re a little forgetful like me, it’s nice to have a recap of what has already happened!

I feel like there are so many emotional scenes in the book that they lose some of their power

One thing that bugged me a bit was how the narrative was mostly centred around August’s facial difference. I think it would be better if differences like these weren’t seen as too much of a big deal. That said, I can understand that a facial difference would impact someone’s life quite substantially, so perhaps this level of focus is realistic. Also, I feel like there are so many emotional scenes in the book that they lose some of their power.

This book gave me a lot of food for thought, particularly concerning the theme of diversity that is so pertinent in the modern world. It raises a lot of questions: do our motives for befriending someone matter? How should we acknowledge differences? Is it possible to create a society where people are judged by their character and not by superficial things, like their face? Reading the book may not have given me complete answers to these tough questions, but it did teach me one thing: choosing to be kind is always good. The more I read, the more I am convinced that kindness is the solution to many of humankind’s problems. 

If I were to give this book a rating out of 10, I’d give it seven. It makes you think, it’s fun at times, and it has a solid set of characters, though it’s not the most riveting read. Personally, I found reading The Perks of Being a Wallflower earlier this year more intriguing. But, if you’ve got some spare time on your hands, why not give it a go?

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