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Read All The Things! Reviews

A mini-me version of Read All The Things!

Wonder

Wonder - R.J. Palacio I realize that my opinion will be hugely unpopular. For the record, I do understand why people love Wonder. There is a lot to love about this book. It just isn't my type of book. It reminds me of cake. One piece of cake is great, but if you try to eat an entire cake by yourself, you'll get sick. This book is so sweet that it made me a little sick. I know that it's a middle grade novel, and those are supposed to have happy endings, but even as a child, I would have had a hard time with all the crying and hugging at the end. I was hoping that this book would be grittier, more realistic, and more honest. The premise is intriguing, but the book is unrealistically sweet and a little simplistic.

Wonder is about ten-year-old August. He is born with a genetic disorder that deforms his face and requires him to have dozens of surgeries. As a result, his parents homeschool him until it's time for middle school. August looks different from other children. At middle school, he faces bullying, discrimination, stares, and whispers. Over the course of a year, August grows up a lot, and the other children learn to be kinder.

The story is told from multiple points-of-view. I like this because it allows the reader to see August from different angles. My favorite narrators are Via and Jack. They feel the most honest to me. Both of them care about August, but they acknowledge that having him in their lives makes life more difficult. This is especially true for August's sister, Via. August requires so much attention that Via feels neglected by her parents. Via and Jack's points-of-view are very well done. Some of the other narrators have voices that sound very similar, so I would have liked them better if they were more distinct.

The sweetness is my main complaint about the book, but I also started to question the motives of August's "friends" as I was reading. The adult characters often tell the child characters to be kind to August. Are the other children friends with August because they like him as a person or because they have been told over and over to be kind to him? I question if the friendships in this book are real friendships. The older girl, Miranda, feels like an authentic friend to August, but I'm not sure about the others. To me, they seem like pity friends who are being kind to August because it's the right thing to do. Kindness is great, but wouldn't August want actual friends and not just people who are kind to him? It really bothers me that August says that he feels like a "mascot" to the other kids. He shouldn't be a mascot to the other kids; he should just be one of the kids.

Then there's the dating thing. Ten-year-olds do date. When I was ten, I remember that there was a lot of pressure to have your first kiss, bring a date to the sock hop, etc. The fact that ten-year-olds date in this book doesn't bother me. I'm also happy that some of the ten-year-olds in the book don't date. When I was ten, I thought that something was wrong with me because I had no interest in dating. I would have loved to read about characters who were similar to me.

This is going to sound hypocritical: it bothers me that August has very few thoughts about dating. He doesn't seem to have any crushes. He doesn't seem to feel any pressure to date. He doesn't seem to have any opinions about his friends dating. He doesn't seem to give much thought to possibly dating in the future. The author puts the other characters in relationships and totally ignores August's romantic life. I didn't like that.

This book is an uplifting, feel-good story with a nice message, so I can see why so many people love it, but it's not my type of thing.