Words can’t change my face

Wonder

R.J. Palacio

The Bodley Head (Random House), 2012

This is the book of the year, and if Hollywood doesn’t pick this story up and make a beautiful movie out of it, I will be very, very surprised.

August Pullman is a little boy living a hugely complicated life. Ten years old, he was born with extensive facial deformities which numerous surgeries have somewhat improved, but failed to fully correct. His loving family have surrounded him in a protective cocoon until now, at age ten, they think it is time for Auggie to go to school.

Thus he begins life in the middle school at Beecher Prep. The novel follows his journey as he tries to fit in as an ordinary kid, and find acceptance from his peers. Predictably, this is no easy task but what is unpredictable is the beauty of Palacio’s narrative, such as at the end of Auggie’s first traumatic day: “(Mum) said soft words that I know were meant to help me, but words can’t change my face”.

Cleverly structured and narrated from various perspectives: Auggie, his older sister Via and their acquaintances; the reader gains insight not only into August’s emotional journey, but also that of those sourrounding him. By choosing children and teenagers as the only narrators, Palacio is able to describe human reaction to disfigurement with honesty and clarity, often with brilliant humour.

This debut novel is funny, frank and incredibly heart-warming with an ending that moved me to tears. Whilst suitable for older children, I think most adults will embrace Wonder and like me, will find it very difficult to put down.

Recommended for ages 10+

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2 Comments

Filed under Boys fiction, Girls fiction, Reviews, Young adult

2 responses to “Words can’t change my face

  1. Heather

    I think it would be a shame if this book is made into a film because a major point is we dont really know what Auggie looks like. The reader already likes him when we discover that he has no ears and his eyes are slits where his checks should be. A film would have to show the viewers what he looks like before we are ‘ready’ to love him unconditionally.
    Yes, Wonder is a fabulous book and everyone should read it but please dont let Hollywood get their hands on it.

    • You’re absolutely right, Heather. I hadn’t considered all this when I wrote that Wonder would make a great film. I was just thinking about the crescendo of emotion I felt at the last moving scene and how well that would translate to the big screen.

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