Augustus Pullman was born with a combination of genetic abnormalities which gave him a severely distorted face. He has been home-schooled and understandably pampered by his family for the first ten years of his life. But this year is going to be different.
Everybody feels like an outsider at one stage in their lives and Palacio puts this feeling under the microscope through August (Auggie) Pullman’s story of his first year in a proper school. Told from several perspectives she covers many themes that touch on all our lives, isolation, bullying, jealousy, family stresses, friendships and the misunderstandings that all make up the human package.
Choosing a main character whose face is so misshapen and giving him a self-effacing sense of humour and a clear sense of his own self-worth makes the reader feel guilty at memories of anytime in our lives when we have sneaked a peak or reacted unfavourable to anyone we have encountered who might be physically different to ourselves.
Palacio does not just give justice to Auggie’s daily battles but she also gives a voice to those around him and the ripple effect that spreads through his family and friends.
I laughed, cried, cringed, felt the aforementioned guilt, was scared and rooted for Auggie while reading his story. In the end I have the author to thank for bringing me on this touching journey.
Palacio has placed herself firmly on a bookshelf beside The Curious Incident of the Dog In The Nighttime, Holes and The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas with her debut 2011 novel Wonder. It doesn’t matter that this book was aimed at 8-12 year olds because anyone who remembers feeling lost as a child whether it was in school or within your own circle of friends will be able to relate.
It deserves all the awards it has already received got and more.