Wonder, a novel by RJ Palacio, explores life for a fifth-grader with a facial difference. I am notoriously picky about books written about children with disabilities (probably because so many of them are poorly-written and play into every stereotype) but I found this debut novel quite successful and engaging.
I very much enjoyed this book, I thought it was well-written for a first novel. Sometimes different perspectives can be jarring and ineffective, but Wonder’s worked well. I think it’s the best fictional portrayal of a protagonist with a craniofacial condition that I’ve encountered. It’s important for children to see people “like them” in the world, whether it’s the imaginary space of a novel or the physical world of connecting in real life. All serve a purpose.
Because I can’t help but analyze it a bit… A few minor criticisms: the plot was a bit formulaic at times, and for some reason it bugged me that I think no one ever identified the protagonist’s condition as Treacher Collins syndrome. Granted I am more well-versed in that area than the average person, but I’d love to hear the reasoning behind that choice. Because I know that I, as a late elementary school reader who already knew what Treacher Collins was from What It Feels Like To Have A Physical Disability (by Jill Krementz), I would’ve been all over that omission!
Random House has started the “Choose Kind” blog on Tumblr to raise awareness of anti-bullying efforts. Check it out and view some of the stories being submitted… and submit your own! I love their efforts to get young people thinking about this.
Here is the book trailer (how amazing that books have trailers now?!)
Anyway, read this book. Not perfect, but definitely an interesting read for all ages.