What could possibly be worse than middle school?
How about middle school after being home-schooled your whole life?
Now, how about having a horrible facial deformity?
So it is for 10 year-old August. He has loving and supportive parents, a four-years-older sister who dotes on him, and a dog he adores.
Auggie was born with a 1 in 5 million combination of two severe facial birth defects. As he puts it, "Whatever you're thinking, it's probably worse."
"Wonder" begins just before fifth grade starts. August's parents think it would be good for him to go to school, since he's advanced academically beyond what his mom can effectively teach. They select Beecher Academy, a small private school near the family's Manhattan home.
The principal invites Auggie and his mom in for a tour. He has picked three kids to show Auggie around the school.
On the first day, Augustus encounters all manner of odd reactions to his face. Eventually, bumps in the road occur, but Augustus ends up having a good year.
"Wonder" is told first-person from a number of different viewpoints. Auggie takes a section, followed by his sister Via, friends Summer and Jack, and so forth, although Augustus is the narrator for half the book or more.
Generally, I like this storytelling device. It didn't always work so much for me here, simply because there wasn't enough difference between the voices. It wasn't as if we learned anything earth-shattering in the divergent chapters, for they were all Auggie's allies. I would like to have heard the mean rich kid narrate a bit--maybe he could explain why he's such a douche to Auggie.
One more small, nit-picky thing. Why is the rich kid always the villain? The richest kid in my class was cool as hell. So was the poorest. The biggest jerk was somewhere in the middle where I was, where most people are.
I didn't get a strong sense of these characters, like I did with "The Fault In Our Stars," or even "A Prayer for Owen Meany," which also has the "freak becomes mascot" theme.
These are not big flaws, really. I liked Auggie and friends. And his family, and the dog. I liked all of the characters I was supposed to like, and apparently, everyone in New York City is just awesome, except for some bullying seventh graders at the nature retreat, and--of course--evil, rich Draco Malfoy and his parents.