By R.J. Palacio
Alfred A Knopf, 2012
Wonder is a children's/young adult novel. It is one of the currently-popular novels-about-kids-with-disabilities, and one of the better ones.
Auggie Pullman has been home-schooled all of his life. Until now. Next year he will be starting fifth grade, and his parents think it's time for him to go to a 'real' school. Auggie disagrees... The other kids will make fun of him, or worse, run away as soon as they see him. He's not being melodramatic -- he is horribly disfigured, and 'horribly' may be an understatement. He shies away from the specific details, but he was born with severe craniofacial deformities, and even after multiple operations, he doesn't approach normal-looking. Or even human-looking. (Okay, maybe he's being a little melodramatic. But not by much).
If the reader doubts how bad his appearance is, the reaction of the other kids puts them to rest. He's not exactly bullied -- people would have to look at him, or at least go near him to bully him -- but he certainly isn't welcomed with open arms. This is balanced by his interactions with his family and friends, who are unfazed by his appearance. While they recognize that he is odd looking, it doesn't bother them -- after all, they've known him for years.
The narrative moves from person to person, starting with Aggie, then his older sister, Via, then a couple of classmates, the sister's boyfriend, sister's friend, back to Aggie... it just keeps going. It's an interesting and effective way of advancing the story, keeping things engaging, and showing how tied-in Aggie is to the community, even if he doesn't always feel like it.
The story is perhaps a bit slow-moving at times, and there aren't any Big Exciting Events -- it's just the story of an unusual kid adapting to school, and the school adapting to him. It covers bullying, both by kids and parents, and also the small act of anti-bullying that end up making a big difference. It does a good job of making an unusual character relatable, and then making the entire community that he lives in relatable.
All and all, this is a good book, and is well worth reading.
Accelerated reader level 4.8.