R J Palacio
Knopf Books for Young Readers
Published February 14, 2012
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Fifth grade student August Pullman faces his first day at school. After being homeschooled for his entire previous education, his parents have decided it’s time for him to be around other kids his age. He’s prepared academically. He’s even met a couple of students already who’ve been very kind. But no one has prepared the rest of the school for August and his unusual appearance. When some students turn cruel, Auggie and his few friends band together, determined to outlast the hazing.
The story is first narrated first by Auggie and then others in his life, each of whom battle a deep insecurity, often less visible than Auggie’s. The changes in point-of-view at first seem like it might distract from the depth and poignancy of Auggie’s story. Instead, each adds richness and harmonious layers and broadens the view and understanding of a remarkable boy and his equally remarkable family and friends.
When an author can include an entire commencement speech and make even that jaw-droppingly wow-worthy, the rest of the book can only be more incredible. And with Palacio’s novel, this is most definitely so. Each character is so lovingly crafted. Even Auggie’s parents (let’s face it, a lot of kids’ books have half-created, silly parents) were phenomenal. I adored his entire family.
Each time the story changed to a different point-of-view, I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to like the new narrator as much as the previous one, and each time I was proved wrong. There were so many great moments, from the building of friendship between Auggie and his classmates to his sister’s struggles with her own friends. Ack! And the moment Auggie’s dad tells him what really happened to the mask? I was a blubbering mess. So moving.
Not since reading The Book Thief for the first time has a story so fully reached out and latched onto my heart and soul. This is an amazing story, one all young readers and their parents should read.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
Boys pick on another boy younger than they are and a fist-fight ensues. It ends quickly.