Title of Book: Wonder
Author: R. J. Palacio
Publisher and Publication date: Alfred A. Knopf, 2012
ISBN number: 978-0-375-86902-0
Audience: Ages 8 and up
Summary: August Pullman is born with a severe facial deformity and is sheltered from the world and home schooled by his parents and sister until fifth grade when he begins middle school at a private school where he knows no one. Making friends is hard enough in middle school, but when you look like Auggie, it’s nearly impossible. He endures stares, ridicule, betrayal, loneliness and heartbreak before an overnight school field trip erupts in a group fight to protect him. When the trip is over, most people at school realize he is just another kid like them and in fact a pretty terrific one. This is a heartwarming story about courage and about judging people for who they are rather than what they look like.
Literary elements at work in the story: This great story is broken into eight sections and told in first person from the view of six of the characters including Auggie, his sister, her former best friend, her boyfriend and two friends from his new school. Each section has short easy to read chapters that express genuine feelings and allow the reader to experience the characters point of view and gain further insight into the story andits dynamics. Each section of the story opens with a quote from a song, a movie or literature that relates to the section or character and ties into the story. There is also mention of his English teacher’s precepts (defined as rules about really important things-like a motto) throughout the story and those are included at the end of the book in an appendix as well as those precepts written by the main characters.
Presentation of gender/race/culture/economic status/age/disabilities/etc: The characters in this story are middle class and upper middle class white people living in New York City. The main character is a 10 year old boy who has a severe facial deformity and a hearing disability.
Theological conversation partners: 1 Samuel 16:7-Humans looks at the outward appearance but the Lord looks on the heart, Parable of the Good Samaritan, Matthew 7:1 (Do not judge others), 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (Love is…), Genesis 1-Created in God’s image-it is good, Shema/Mark 12:30-31 (Love your neighbor as yourself). Karl Barth-The Judge who was judged in our place and was just.
Faith Talk Questions:
- What story or character in the Bible does Auggie’s story remind you of and why?
- How would you line up the characters in this story with the parable of the Good Samaritan? Why?
- Who in this book do you think is the Good Samaritan?
- What do you think it means to be created in God’s image? What does that mean for people with deformities and/or disabilities?
- What does it mean to judge other people? How do we judge people? How does God judge people?
- What does it mean for us to love our neighbor?
- Think of the ‘Auggie’ that you go to school with-How is he/she treated by other? By you?
- What can you do to love the “Auggie’ at your school?
- How is courage displayed in this story?
- What is Auggie’s source of courage? What is yours?
This review was written by Union Presbyterian Seminary student Lisa McLennan.