Wonder by R.J. Palacio

So I'm finally writing a review about this book...I know, I know. I'm at least two years behind everyone else, but it bears repeating. This kid is a wonder after all.

Auggie was born with mandibulofacial dysostosis...and a bunch of other very unfortunate genetic mutations which result in some serious facial abnormalities. As he puts it, "Whatever you're thinking, it's probably worse," (Palacio pg. 3). He's endured countless surgeries to overcome the very real possibility of never living to see tomorrow, and now, at 10 years old he's finally going to go to a real school.

Let's be clear, he doesn't want to go. Well, mostly. He knows the kids are going to stare and make fun of him. They won't be able to see past his face and treat him like the really cool, funny, mostly normal kid who rides his bike, eats ice cream, loves his dog, and plays XBox.

His sister Via has lived in the shadow of Auggie and been his biggest protector her whole life, but this year she's starting high school. She's ashamed to admit that it's a relief to be somewhere she isn't known as "the freak's sister." She's cast in the school play, and she hasn't told her family about it...what kind of a sister is she...what kind of a person does that make her?

Jack hasn't told August this, but the principal asked him to hang out with Auggie and help him out. I mean, that's how it started out, but he really likes Auggie now. He would pretty much consider him his best friend. He just feels pressured by everyone else. They ask him why he would be friends with a freak. And that horrible game everyone is playing, The Plague...he doesn't know what comes over him that day.

All of these reactions and emotions all over a sweet 10-year old boy with a birth defect. Can this boy really enact some change in this school? Or will he decide it's all too much, and retreat from the bullying and whispers. This is a story of bravery in the face of cowardice, and it will break your heart before it puts it back together again.
"'It was bad how we did that,' she said. 'Just getting up like that, like we'd just seen the devil. I was scared for what Jamie was going to say, you know? I didn't want him to say anything that would hurt that little boy's feelings. But it was very bad, us leaving like that. The momma knew what was going on.'
'But we didn't mean it,' I answered.
'Jack, sometimes you don't have to mean to hurt someone to hurt someone. You understand?'" (Palacio pg. 137, 2012).
*Library Link*

If you liked this, check out:
365 Days of Wonder: Mr. Browne's Book of Precepts by R.J. Palacio
Firegirl by Tony Abbott
Twerp by Mark Goldblatt

Palacio, R. J. (2012). Wonder. New York : Alfred A. Knopf.

The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani and Iacopo Bruno (School for Good and Evil, Book 1)

Sophie knows that this is the year. The School Master will come and take her away to her destiny. She will become the princess she was always meant to be. Of course, her best friend Agatha will be taken too, and she will become a witch. The two of them will enter the School for Good and Evil together, and live forever in a fairy tale. It's a dream come true! Anything is better than living her days out in this miserable town. Anything is better than being ordinary...

When the School Master comes, however, he makes a huge mistake. He puts Agatha in Good (Evers), and Sophie in Evil (Nevers)! This has to be a joke, right? Both girls are miserable, and no one will let them near the School Master's tower. Agatha wants nothing more than to go home, but Sophie wants her storybook ending. Sophie keeps accidentally winning challenges causing the Nevers to start to think maybe she's not as bad as they thought. Agatha, on the other hand, is in danger of failing if she loses any more challenges!

The school itself is full of mysterious history. The other students all come from storybook families. They call Agatha and Sophie "Readers," and mock their lack of knowledge. Each story is written by the Storian, a magic pen. Each student will be assigned a role in a larger tale when they graduate: hero, princess, villain, witch, henchman, or mogrif. A mogrif could be anything from a cat to a tree to a gargoyle...and neither want to end up as a piece of scenery.

How are they ever going to survive such a strange place! When Sophie sees Tedros, she knows she has found her prince. This is the answer to her Happily Ever After... but how will she ever convince him her Never status is undeserved? And how will she tell Agatha that she wants to stay?
"'You belong here with us,' Hester said, as she, Anadil, and Dot crowded around Agatha, whose head swung nervously between this villainous threesome. Did they really want to be her friend? Was Sophie right? Could being a villain make her...happy?
   Agatha's stomach churned. She didn't want to be Evil! Not when Sophie was Good! They had to get out of this place before it tore them apart!
   'I'm not leaving you!' she cried to Sophie, breaking away.
   'No one's asking you to leave me, Agatha,' Sophie said tightly. 'We're just asking you to leave your clothes,'" (Chainani, 2014).
*Library Link*

If you liked this, check out:
The School for Good and Evil #2: A World Without Princes by Soman Chainani
Storybound by Marissa Burt
Doll Bones by Holly Black

Chainani, Soman, & Bruno, Iacopo. (2013). The School for Good and Evil. New York, NY : Harper.