Genre: middle grade fiction
Length: 316 pages
Setting: NYC, present day
Summary: Auggie has always been homeschooled. It was just easier so he could recover from all the surgeries he’d undergone to fix some of his congenital facial deformities. But, Auggie’s parents have decided to send him to Beecher Prep for fifth grade. He’s a little nervous, but he’s introduced to the school and some of the students before school starts. It is difficult in school, as most kids have a hard time getting over his facial deformity. Auggie does make a few friends, and the kids rally around him when he is attacked by older kids from another school. We also get to see the situation from several other viewpoints, including his older sister, Via who’s trying to recreate her identity as she moves into high school.
Final thoughts: This was an excellent story. You really feel for Auggie. His physical appearance sets him apart and most of the kids can’t get past it. Luckily, he makes two friends early on. Summer makes an effort to sit him during lunch and finds he’s an interesting kid. Auggie’s other friend is Jack, who he sits with in most of his classes. There’s some angst when Auggie overhears Jack badmouthing him at one point. Eventually they work things out and get back to being friends. And of course, there’s the rich snotty kid that can’t understand why anyone would like Auggie over himself. Via also finds herself regaining an old friend after actually talking about the situation instead of just letting things slide. Via finds out high school is a chance to redefine yourself, but you don’t always make the right choices the first time around.
The book actually made me cry when I was reading it to the kids. Auggie’s dog died, and it was so realistically described, I choked up. Overall, it was a very emotional book. You see the difficulty of finding your place in middle school, the fear of being picked on, and then the joy of being rescued by his peers and finally accepted for personality and not just appearance. The principal is moved by Auggie and his actions throughout the school year as well, and that emotion is expressed in gradation day.
I did find it interesting that occasionally we would move into someone else’s head to tell the story. Sometimes we’d jump back and retell something we’d already seen from Auggie’s point of view to get a different take on the situation. Overall, a high-quality, highly recommended book.
Reading challenges fulfilled: book #45 for the year
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