Wonder: A Book Review

Mychaela Nickoloff reviews & interviews

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Middle school is tough. This major transition instills newfound independence in tweens, and you can no longer shelter them in the way you used to. As a parent, you teach and protect your children all you can, but as soon as they walk through the doors of middle school it’s up to them to use the tools you provided to discern good from bad, right from wrong.

In elementary school, you were in the loop. Nothing says pre-teen more than the notorious hunch and shrug in response to a friendly, “How was your day?” You can only hope that they are happy and kind and making good choices.

For them, middle school is scary. There are more kids than previous years and more responsibility. Then there is the added social pressure to be “cool.” And there are bullies.

A friend of mine is a teacher and told me I had to read Wonder by R.J. Palacio. She said that it is one of the best depictions of middle school, and she was right.

August Pullman, a 5th grade boy, is beginning mainstream school for the first time at a private middle school in New York. He was born with a severe facial deformity and had been homeschooled up until this defining moment in his life. Starting middle school for the first time can be scary as it is. For August, it’s terrifying.  

Wonder is a touching story told from multiple perspectives. You get a chance to see through the eyes of August, his sister, his friends and his tormentor, Julian.

This is a great story to read with your kid, as it has the potential to open a discussion about people’s differences, compassion and what it means to be “cool.” Most importantly, it depicts a very honest bullying situation.  

Bullying is a very real and scary reality lurking in middle schools. The story of August and his friends confronts this issue head on and has the potential to open up a discussion about what to do as a target of bullying, a bystander—and even as the bully.  


About the Author

Mychaela Nickoloff

is a journalist, freelance writer, and exuberant adventurer. Originally from Spokane, Washington, she now lives in Missoula, Montana. She loves the outdoors and is an avid skier.

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