RJ Palacio's new book Wonder is a middle-grades novel about August ("Auggie"), a young boy born with severe facial abnormalities who, at the age of 10, leaves the safety of his parents' homeschooling and begins attending a New York private school. August has cleft palate, no cheekbones, asymmetrical eyes, and other deformities that are caused by a rare genetic disorder; he has spent his life going in and out of surgery, beating the odds and surviving. He is smart and engaging, but also sheltered, immature, and terribly frightened of human contact.
Wonder's story unfolds through a series of point-of-view jumps, beginning in Auggie's head, then shifting to his sister, his friends, his sister's friends, and then back to him. It is through this device that Palacio manages to produce a story of intense action and intense introspection, a series of interiorized monologues that show the frailties and foibles behind each of Auggie's trials and hurts. Thus, Wonder becomes more than a story about a poor disabled child who overcomes bullies to find acceptance in school -- instead, it's a beautifully told lesson in empathy that requires that the reader find sympathy for each of the principle actors in the story.
Palacio is a wonderful storyteller and her characters are bright, well-rounded and intensely likable. Wonder is a beautiful book that is full of sorrow and triumph, emotional without being manipulative -- highly recommended.
Anthony Gulino writes, "Los Anarchists Junior Derby is a nonprofit that takes a DIY approach to teaching roller derby to kids. It runs programs for all levels from the youngest, newest skaters to the highest level of competitive junior derby at its dedicated facility, Anarchy Hall, in Sun Valley, CA. Los Anarchists' travel team is […]
Every year around this time, our friends at Sparrow Lockpicks (previously) come out with a incredibly clever, giftable addition to your locksport arsenal; I always buy a few of these for Christmas gifts (often for younger people on my list) and they're universally well received.
20 years ago, Illinois was rocked by a scandal after the widespread practice of locking schoolchildren, especially those with disabilities or special needs, in small, confining boxes was revealed. The teachers who imprisoned these children argued that they did so out of the interests of safety -- that of the imprisoned students, of the other […]
Do you have any Star Wars fans on your list? Given the reach and output of its new corporate masters these days, it might be easier to ask if there’s anyone out there who isn’t a Star Wars fan. So let’s narrow it down further: Do you know a Star Wars fan who likes to […]
There’s much ado about coffee brewing methods these days, but most of us – at least on the busy weekdays – just want our morning joe to be consistent, easy, and most of all, fast. If that sounds like anyone on your Christmas list, they’re going to get a lot of mileage out of the […]
Online shopping is going to be through the roof this month, and you’d better believe that hackers know it. If you’re going to invest in a virtual private network, now is the time. Especially when Windscribe VPN is offering its own holiday discount. At their current price point, it’s well worth jumping on the paid […]