August (Auggie) Pullman was born with a facial deformity that prevented him from going to a mainstream school—until now. He’s about to start 5th grade at Beecher Prep, and if you’ve ever been the new kid then you know how hard that can be. The thing is Auggie’s just an ordinary kid, with an extraordinary face. But can he convince his new classmates that he’s just like them, despite appearances?
First line: “I know I’m not an ordinary ten-year-old kid.”
Author: R. J. Palacio
My edition: A e-book edition from Gyldendal Norsk Forlag in Norwegian, translated by Rune R. Moen
Age: Middle Grade. 10+
Genres: Young Adult, Fiction, Realistic Fiction, Childrens, Middle Grade, Contemporary
I actually found this one while sorting our shelves at work and it seemed interesting so I put it on my TBR-list. Then with the movie coming up, I figured it was time.
The plot is so simple, yet so amazing. August (Auggie) has been homeschooled all of his life because of his condition. He has a facial deformity that has led to him having to go through a lot of surgeries and needing a lot of medical attention. Because of that, it has been easier to keep him at home. But it is time for Auggie to face the real school, and start in middle grade with all the other ten-year-olds.
We all know what it feels like to start at a new school or at a new job or a new anything really. The feeling of not knowing anyone, and wondering if you’ll make any friends or if people won’t like you. It’s so relatable. We also know what it’s like to be ten year old. You’re just a child, on the very beginning of figuring out life and who you are and what you value and how you should behave.
Then Auggie has the challenge of having a deformed face. It’s bad. In the beginning of the book, we get to know that children has runned away screaming from the playground when they’ve seen him.
Imagine being a ten-year-old with a deformed face going to school for the first time in your life.
The plot starts a little while before Auggie starts school, and we get to know him and his family. Then we follow Auggie throughout his first day of school and further on into good days and bad days.When he meets his class, how the different class mates react and everything Auggie has to deal with. As I mentioned, the plot is simple. But it works so well.
This book made me cry several times (it was kind of embarrasing really – I read this book in under 24 hours while visiting my boyfriend and having to deal with the silent crying into the pillow to not wake him up and then having to deal with the silent crying not drawing attention to myself on the train on my way home). Seriously, there were times where I just felt that the world is truly shitty and there’s so many people out there who’ll never understand common decency. I felt so deeply for Auggie and it’s so easy to fall in love with this wonderful little guy who’s been through so much.
But, this book made me smile like an idiot several times as well, because there are people out there who is good after all. And there are moments when the world just makes perfect sense.
Also, the book has about 7 different narratives. This may seem chaotic, but it brought this book and it’s message to a whole new level. This book was amazing with only Auggie as a narrator. Because it is so incredible interesting to hear what a ten-year-old like him is facing and what he is thinking while he does so. But there are several sides to a story like this one, and just like any other disease or diagnose, there are more than one person that is affected by it.
You’ve already imagined how it’s like to be a ten-year-old with a deformed face. Then, imagine being the sister of this ten year old. How it is like standing on the sideline watching as your little brother goes thorugh surgery, watching as he’s not accepted on the playground and having to deal with parents who has to spend all their available time checking on him.
Imagine being the classmate who sees him for the first time. Imagine being in an environment where “popularity” just became a factor, where you may be getting your first girlfriend or boyfriend ever and things that never mattered before suddenly does. Imagine choosing between what’s the right thing to do and what makes you climb the ladder to popularity.
With the different narratives, Palacio shows us all these different sides of the situation, and it’s interesting and it teaches us a big lesson. I’m left thinking that every ten-year old in the whole world should read this book, because it has such a valuable lesson. I seriously called my mom the same day I finished the book and told her to go to the library to borrow this and read for my little sister (luckily, she doesn’t “need” this book in ways some ten-year-olds really do, but it’s still a beautiful book that puts things in perspective)
The book is set so that each narrative gets to tell the story from their perspective. The writing is simple with just the right balance between descriptions of the environment, action-scenes and reflections from the characters. A thing that I loved about the book is how real Palacio makes his characters. It really feels like we are reading the mind of a ten-year-old when we read about Auggie and Jack. That shows in the writing too. The best example is a part of the book that shows a facebook-chat between Auggie and his classmate Jack where Palacio has allowed the chat to be written exactly how a ten-year-old would have written it. Words like “awzum” and “frenz” and typo’s like “agen” instead of “again” just made me smile so much. It was perfect.
Auggie, the main character was just the most perfect main character ever created. He’s smart, funny and reflective. He’s been through so much and that has made him understand so much. Like this particular section that teared me up:
“I’m not saying they were doing any of these things in a mean way, by the way: not once did any kid laugh or make noises or do anything like that. They were just being normal dumb kids. I know that. I kind of wanted to tell them that. Like, it’s okay, I’m know I’m weird-looking, take a look, I don’t bite. Hey, the truth is, if a Wookiee started going to the school all of a sudden, I’d be curious, I’d probably stare a bit! And if I was walking with Jack or Summer, I’d probably whisper to them: Hey, there’s the Wookiee. And if the Wookiee caught me saying that, he’d know I wasn’t trying to be mean. I was just pointing out the fact that he’s a Wookiee.”
While Auggie is a reflected and smart character, he is also a ten year old kid, and I just love how Palacio has been able to create that feeling. I’ve already pointed this out, but it’s so well-balanced and I admire authors that are able to immerse themselves into a character that are so unlike themselves.
Via, the big sister is also a very good character. She is reflective, cool and a little different. It shows that her life has been affected by her little brother which is interesting to read about.
Jack and Summer are also very good characters that I liked a lot. and Mr. Browne was just amazing!
This is a warm and beautiful story that will bring you to tears and make you smile.It’s funny, heartbreaking and beautiful. I loved it, and I love that this book excists and I hope there are many people out there who read it because it’s both beautiful and important.
29.01.17 – marked as currently reading
29.01.17 – 17% “Mr. Browne is already a favorite character”
29.01.17 – 20% “This book breaks my heart”
30.01.17 – 22% “But this book makes me smile too”
30.01.17 – 71% “Oh”
30.01.17 – 95% “And now I’m crying on a train. I’m that person today”.
30.01.17 – marked as read
Yes, I think so. I may be a little older than the suited age – but this book is so real and it is such a great moral It’d be cool to have it in my shelf.
Every child ever. And every adults too. Seriously, everybody should read this. But if you like contemporary this is a good one, and if you like too read about people that are a little bit out of the ordinary, this is perfect.
“The best way to measure how much you’ve grown isn’t by inches or the number of laps you can now run around the track, or even your grade point average– though those things are important, to be sure. It’s what you’ve done with your time, how you’ve chosen to spend your days, and whom you’ve touched this year. That, to me, is the greatest measure of success.”