by R.J. Palacio

Even though he’d like to think of himself as an ordinary kid, Auggie Pullman... read more

Even though he’d like to think of himself as an ordinary kid, Auggie Pullman knows he isn’t. He has severe facial anomalies; almost anyone seeing him for the first time visibly reacts. Auggie is starting fifth grade at Beecher Prep, a huge change and challenge after being homeschooled all his life. He makes friends with Jack and things seem to be going okay until the day he overhears Jack talking about him. Auggie is crushed by what Jack says. It’s a devastating, unsettling moment followed by a shift in point of view: Readers are suddenly thrust into life from the perspective of Auggie’s teenage sister, Via. Later Jack, struggling to find the courage and the strength to be a good friend, and Summer, a girl comfortable with being Auggie’s friend and waiting for Auggie to fully trust her, become the voices carrying the story. Via’s boyfriend, and her estranged best friend, also become tellers of this tale, which eventually comes full circle back to Auggie. The multiple points of view are tremendously effective, giving remarkable depth and range to Auggie’s story over the course of his fifth-grade year while developing characters whose own stories are intriguing. Auggie emerges as a boy with faults and flaws like anyone, and if there’s a bit of an after-school-special quality to the book’s ending, with Auggie winning over the hearts and minds of so many, it is also an ending pitch-perfect for readers who will benefit from having the values of tolerance and courage and friendship clearly delineated in R. J. Palacio’s surprising and affecting debut novel. (Ages 10–13)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2013

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