Genre: Children/Realistic Fiction
Number of Pages: 313
Publication Date: February 14, 2012
Themes: Acceptance, Differences, Peer Pressure, Bullying, Friendship
August (Auggie) Pullman was born with a facial deformity that has caused much stress and frustration throughout his life. Due to many harrowing operations, he has been home-schooled by his mom. However, he is now about to start public school. Will the other students be accepting? Will he be able to make friends despite his appearance?
This children’s book is actually a third re-read for me. The first time was a pre-reading before introducing it to my previous students. Then, I read it with those students. This third time, I read it for my in-person book club and in preparation for the upcoming movie.
Normally, I do not take the time to re-read books unless I absolutely love them. With three reads, I obviously love this one!
The major theme of acceptance is something, I believe, relates to not only children, but to everyone. How many times have we judged someone due to their outward appearance? It isn’t right, but it’s reality. In this chapter book, the author cleverly pulls in a variety of children (middle school and high school) to give their version of the interactions and reactions toward the central character, August, and his facial deformity.
Told in alternating perspectives, it is clear that the author had put a lot of thought and care into this read. The characters were all well-developed. The plot flowed extremely well and was never dull or dry (even with a third read!); there were both serious moments and light-hearted, humorous moments. But, most importantly, the realistic situations and relatable themes were the shining stars throughout the length of this novel.
One of things that Palacio did wonderfully was weaving all the character perspectives together. She would allow one character to tell his/her tale, then give another character a chance to share. Sometimes, more than one character would reflect on the same scene, so there were some backtracking, but Palacio did this flawlessly. This type of writing style can easily fail and give readers a headache attempting to figure out what is happening when and to whom, but here it was logical and simple to follow, so kudos to the author!
The only “issue” I had with this book is one particular chapter. This chapter belongs to a boy name, Justin. Justin is a high school student and Auggie’s sister’s boyfriend. His chapter did not include capital letters or any punctuation aside from periods (i.e. no quotation marks, no commas, etc.). I’m not sure what the purpose of this was, but it was extremely distracting. I had to re-read much of it to understand when conversations began and ended. I believe this was intentional, but it didn’t really serve a purpose aside from being frustrating.
Overall, this was an amazing read (even with Justin’s chapter) that I’m sure many will enjoy. It is one that I am sure to revisit again in the future.