New Thing #361: Wonder

WonderI didn't think I'd be able to squeeze another book New Thing into this year, but so I have. It's Wonder, the debut novel by R.J. Palacio.

A bunch of people have recommended it to me, since most of the book deals with fifth grade.

Some have just suggested I read it.

Others have suggested we should read it with students.

I'm here to suggest that every parent should read this book with their children when they're around 10 years old.

Here's the premise: August has an extremely rare genetic syndrome that has resulted in multiple facial deformities. He's been homeschooled for his whole life up to this point partly because of how he looks but also because of the accompanying medical issues which would have forced him to miss school.

The book is about how he adjusts to finally going to school in his fifth grade year, and how his classmates handle going to school with him.

I had a general idea of that premise, but you don't appreciate just how much goes into that premise until you read the book.

And the author does a nice job of helping to convey just how much goes into that premise by telling the story from a bunch of different perspectives, though August's is the main point of view for the majority of the book.

It's a wonderful (no pun intended) story.

It's very frank, addressing the realities a real-life kid like August must live through. And it highlights the best in human behavior…as well as the worst.

I think, if we want our children to treat others with kindness, parents should read this book with their children to spur conversations about how they would act if they were in certain characters' shoes.

I know the book made me think about those scenarios. I also know that some of the characters in the book exhibited some extraordinary behavior, and I don't know how realistic that is. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have been that empathetic as a fifth grader.

I wish I was more like the character Summer, who quickly became one of my favorite book characters ever because of what she did in the book.

I like to think that if this book is widely read, more young people might want to be more like Summer.

Now that would be wonderful.