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Backshelf Book Review: Wonder by R.J. Palacio

I sent out a mini poll on Twitter about what backshelf type book I should read next and the answer was definitely Wonder by R.J. Palacio!

Backshelf Book Reviews

Backshelf Book Reviews is an RBR original feature that in which I FINALLY get around to books we’ve been meaning to read for like ever. I take suggestions, so please leave some in the comments!

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Wonder by R.J. Palacio

Goodreads | Amazon | R.J. Palacio’s Website

wonder by r.j. palacio book review

Title & Author: Wonder by R.J. Palacio

Genre: Middle Grade

Release Date: February 14, 2012

Series: Standalone (Plus novellas)

Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers

How I Got the Book: Bought


“You can’t blend in when you were born to stand out.

My name is August. I won’t describe what I look like. Whatever you’re thinking, it’s probably worse.

August Pullman wants to be an ordinary ten-year-old. He does ordinary things. He eats ice cream. He plays on his Xbox. He feels ordinary – inside.

But Auggie is far from ordinary. Ordinary kids don’t make other ordinary kids run away screaming in playgrounds. Ordinary kids don’t get stared at wherever they go.

Born with a terrible facial abnormality, Auggie has been home-schooled by his parents his whole life, in an attempt to protect him from the cruelty of the outside world. Now, for the first time, he’s being sent to a real school – and he’s dreading it. All he wants is to be accepted – but can he convince his new classmates that he’s just like them, underneath it all?”

Incredibly Moving, Touchingly Real

Even though Wonder is technically a middle grade book, its straightforward writing and alternate points of view make it accessible to readers of any age.

This is a story to pass down and re-read over and over. Although Auggie is “different,” his struggles and challenges are relatable to not only children but adults. The desire to be accepted and to be seen for who you really are are universal.

Obviously Auggie has a much tougher time with this than most, and his voice is so clear and innocent and kind. The messages in Wonder are timeless – like “Choose kind” and “Your deeds are your monuments” and “Fortune favors the bold.”

One of the best parts about the story was the shifting points of view. You hear from Auggie’s sister Olivia, his best friend Jack and a few others.

This is the best use of POVs that I’ve ever read. Each person has such individual and valuable insight that it really expanded my appreciation for Auggie and everyone in his life (and their own unique stories).

PLUS – There are now bonus novellas from the perspective of Julian, Charlotte and Christopher. I’ll be reading those for sure.


This is one of those books you finish and know you’re a better person for having read it. I cannot recommend Wonder enough – it’s equal parts heartbreaking, hopeful, eye-opening and powerful.

About Lisa Parkin

I'm a hardcore lover of young adult fiction and have been reviewing books since 2011. Other interests include Downton Abbey, heat lightning storms, Harry Potter land and (begrudingly) one orange tabby.