Sunday, 11 March 2012

Wonder by RJ Palacio

It's been a lazy weekend at home, so I have read a couple of young adult books, as I like to recommend reads to the students at school, and feel more confident doing so if I have actually read them!

The first was Wonder by RJ Palacio. The age guideline says 10+ but I am going to let A read it, as there was nothing in there which I thought was unsuitable for her.

I have seen quite a lot of hype about this book, mainly on my twitter feed, so bought it when it came into the Red House catalogue for a measly few pounds.

The subject matter is interesting - it's about a boy, August, starting middle school in 5th Grade (yes, it's American). He has never been to school before, as his parents have kept him at home due to medical issues surrounding his facial abnormalities. The story revolves around August's struggle to be accepted as just one of the kids at his school. It's told from several different perspectives, which makes it somewhat more multi-faceted and interesting.

However, some of the characters were far too one-dimensional for me. August's parents were just sickeningly perfect - no couple is really like this. In fact, this would be the only thing that would put me off letting A read it. Mr M and I would not come off well in a comparison with the young, intelligent, attractive, funny, empathetic, understanding and charming Pullmans. I bet she never screeches "BECAUSE I SAID SO!" in response to a question from her child, whilst shuffling round the kitchen accidentally pouring milk on the work surface and wearing her husband's old jogging bottoms and a t-shirt she bought when she was in Year 9.

Anyway, although it was a well-thought out enough tale, to my mind Benjamin Zephaniah's novel Face is a much better read with a similar subject matter. I read that over a decade ago, and yet I can recall that the characters were much more sharply drawn and there was less of children's book vibe about the whole thing. Wonder is definitely not a bad book, but didn't live up to the hype, in my opinion.

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