*a giant THANK YOU!!!! to my flawless mom for helping to both capture and balance not only these books upon my head, but also my complete and utter insanity. (I love you, Mom!!!)*
Good afternoon, Cyberspace!
I have never written a book review before.
Scratch that–I have written
one two book reviews before.
And they were absolutely terrible.
Centuries ago, I wrote a smol book review on one of my all-time favorite books of ever–Winter by Marissa Meyer. The Lunar Chronicles is forever and always my Supreme Favorite Series, and therefore it was obligatory that I write a raving five-star review on its most smashing book.
And then the other review was for In Between by Jenny B. Jones, which was pretty much just meh. (the review, not the book. the book was SPECTUCULAR!!!)
Of course, little did I know that these reviews would later come back to haunt me from beyond the grave. Apparently Goodreads does not just house the tears of the soul-shattered and the limbs of the dead.
It also holds the cringe-worthy reviews of a budding blogger, as well.
And you can read some of those stunning reviews here.
WARNING: possible eye injury may occur, alongside losing your supreme will to live.
But today I decided to give it another go. I mean, if you fail at something once, why not fail at it again? It’s not like you can dive any deeper on the Totem of Failure, am I right?
And besides. Reviewing books is something that I’ve been wanting to do ever since I started this blog one year ago.
It’s about time we make this a reality, don’t you think?
So buckle up, Cyberspace. We are in for a what will probably be an extremely bumpy ride . . .
A Bookish Beans Review: Wonder by R.J. Palacio
The Goodreads Synopsis —
I won’t describe what I look like. Whatever you’re thinking, it’s probably worse.
August (Auggie) Pullman was born with a facial deformity that prevented him from going to a mainstream school—until now. He’s about to start 5th grade at Beecher Prep, and if you’ve ever been the new kid then you know how hard that can be. The thing is Auggie’s just an ordinary kid, with an extraordinary face. But can he convince his new classmates that he’s just like them, despite appearances?
R. J. Palacio has written a spare, warm, uplifting story that will have readers laughing one minute and wiping away tears the next. With wonderfully realistic family interactions (flawed, but loving), lively school scenes, and short chapters, Wonder is accessible to readers of all levels.
What I Loved . . .
— The Characters
Excuse me whilst I go squeal for a million years about these smol precious darlings.
I absolutely ADORE Palacio’s character creation. Rather than feeling like a bit of cardboard that she’s scuffling around through a set, these characters actually feel real.
Like actual living, breathing people.
Like I could literally reach right into the page and yank them out of their fictional world and hug them nicely and feed them cookies because THE HORRORS THESE POOR CHILDREN GO THROUGH, MY GOODNESS ME.
I honestly have no idea how they manage to survive through this story, yet alone hold fast to their vision of hope through it all. These characters–these poor, smol characters–are put through so tremendously much, yet they still manage to keep a smile on their face and love in their hearts, and somehow–someway–it is not unrealistic.
And this baffles me, sir.
Because I become furious and lose all trust in humanity if someone even tries to steal my cookies.
But I can honestly say that I learned a lot from not just August Pullman, but from everyone he interacted with.
And lucky for you, I have compiled an extremely lengthy list to further explain why . . .
(you know you love me)
- August/Auggie Pullman – One of the things I absolutely loved about August was that he didn’t bother trying to explain what his face looked like. At all. He left it to the reader’s imagination, because to him, it didn’t even matter. He had a facial deformity. He knew he had a facial deformity. That was that. There was no need–in his eyes–to go into mass detail.
- And I loved this because the same thing rings true for everyone. If you know something about you isn’t normal, if you know something about you makes you different–possibly even less appealing–than you don’t go around trying to explain what it is. You say it like it is and let that be that.
- Another thing about August that really inspired me was his strength. This kid went through so much, and yet he was still one of the sweetest, kindest, and funniest kids of his class. Even when every single one of his classmates was being a giant jerky jerk jerk-face to him, and excuse me but NO.
- No. This book gave me too many feels. There were moments as I was reading this when I physically could not conceal my rage.
- Yet August was still fighting through it like a hero. #how
- Natalie Pullman (August’s mother) – If there is one character in this entire book that is stronger than Auggie–which is honestly saying a LOT–it is August’s mother. This woman is just a hero, okay? A HERO. Whatever August has been through, she’s been through ten-times worse than that, and yet she still smiles and laughs for him. Because she is just that much of a miracle.
- And the same thing can be said for most mothers, can’t it? Yet we never stop to take a look at how much they truly do for us on a daily basis. How much they put on the back burner in their own lives to help us with ours.
- This book taught me to stop and look.
- Via/Olivia Pullman (August’s older sister) – Via is the epitome of every sibling ever. She is the normal child. The child without a facial deformity. The child without all of the medical bills and hospital visits and life-threatening situations.
- And therefore she is the forgotten child.
- I think any human being who has a sibling can relate at least a little bit to Via. Every kid–at some point in their existence–feels overshadowed by their siblings, and Via’s relationship with her family just broke my heart. There is so much going on in this poor child’s life, but with Auggie beginning a mainstream school for the very first time ever, she holds it all in because it’s just not important enough.
- And please excuse me while I go weep bitterly because #RELATABLE
- I mean, when the story’s point of view suddenly (and quite unexpectedly???) split over to Via, and we got to look even deeper into her life, I just–MY MIND WAS BLOWN.
- When the story was in August’s POV, we only saw what he saw. We saw his struggles. His pain. His obstacles that he had to overcome. His version of Via.
- And then, when we finally got to see Via through Via’s eyes, everything just…clicked. It all made so much more sense, and there was no stopping the feels that came tumbling in.
- It was that terrible. It was that amazing.
- And then we got to see her relationship with her grandmother, and I’m pretty sure that’s when my heart fractured into a thousand little pieces…
- Nate Pullman (August’s dad) – So I’m doing August’s entire family on this list, but this character really wasn’t one of my favorites…? He was nice and all that, but there wasn’t really anything about him that gave me a deeper sense of meaning in humanity.
- Which is something that the rest of August’s family did.
- But he was the reason they had a puppy…?
- So props to you, dude.
- Summer – Okay, so I absolutely LOVE Summer. She is adorable. She is kind. Her heart is made of solid gold and dragon tears, and she is just so quirky and unique! Summer literally does not give a roasted rat’s fart about what anyone has to say about her. She is completely comfortable in her own skin, which is so hard to come by in individuals these days. We are always influenced into liking what other people like or doing what other people do because we are afraid of standing out from the crowd.
- Not Summer.
- She is the most beautiful blend of confidence and kindness, and I just want to
steal her soul and become herfling ALL OF THE COOKIES AT HER FACE.
- Jack Will – I don’t even know where to begin with this kid.
- I liked him.
- Then I loved him.
- Then I hated him.
- Then I disliked him with a fiery passion.
- Then I loved him again.
- This kid was a roller coaster, I tell you. He takes your feels and throws them to the seven winds until you’re unsure whether to hug him tightly or punch him in the face.
- Daisy – I AM STILL SOBBING OVER THIS ASDFGHJKL
- Miranda – Despite how terribly she treated Via, once you get to Miranda’s point of view, you can’t help but feel sorry for this smol child???
- Like, she’s been through a LOT. And it only makes sense that she copes with it the way she does. She’s hurt. She’s alone.
- I JUST WANT TO HUG HER CLOSE AND FEED HER COOKIES, OKAY???
- And despite her and Via’s difficulties, she never stopped loving Auggie like a brother. Ever. She never once considered him as anything less than a human. She was never ashamed or frightened of him.
- In some ways, I’d even go so far as to say that her love for Auggie was stronger than Via’s.
- Which is saying something, as Via’s love for him is STRONG.
- Julian – Don’t even get me started on this
- Julian made me extremely angry, not just because of how evil he was towards August, but also because he had no sense of remorse about it.
- At all.
- And obviously no kid is just like that. There is always something going on in their lives that makes them so nasty towards other humans, and usually it’s something happening in their home lives.
- And I am fueled in my belief of this by a series of emails between the principle of August’s new school and Julian’s parents.
- Just…no. His parents are terrible human beings. His mother even went so far as to crop August out of the school photo, for no reason other than his face.
- WHO DOES THIS???
- I would like to slap his parents over the head with a frying pan, please.
- And as for the no remorse thing, I have recently discovered a short story from Julian’s perspective, which apparently shows his story (along with some possible change of heart???), so I am very eager to check that out as soon as possible.
- And also slap his parents with a frying pan.
And basically I could go on and on and on about ALL of the characters found in this book
(like the principle and the lady with the shiny smile and Via’s OTHER friend who is just terrible and the evil kids who hurt my poor Auggie and stole his hearing aids and ASDFGHJKL), but this review is already getting quite lengthy, isn’t it?
Let us move on. . .
— The Message
The message of this book was just so infinitely beautiful. It is about kindness and love and hope and pain and loss and heartbreak, and just UGH. This book is outstanding. Simply outstanding.
August’s story is not just about a boy with a facial deformity. It is a story about rising above all the hate and evil in this world and becoming something beautiful. It is a story about change. About how the most beautiful things come from within.
And I know that this theme has been done before. Every theme has. But this is different.
There is no magical spell at the end of the book to magically alter August’s face. There is no cure. No wish granted. No impossible transformation.
August still has his deformities at the end, just as he did in the beginning.
But so much has changed. Oh so much has changed.
— The Story Arc
This story is a roller coaster, guys. A complete and utter roller coaster.
It will have you laughing. It will have you fuming. It will have you
crying shedding a single tear because we are robots and are incapable of crying at fictional stories.
It will have you sideways, longways, upways, downways, and just ALL OF THE WAYS, OKAY???
— The Ending
The ending of this book was simple and complete beauty. It had me–of all people–shedding a tear of joy and sadness and regret that this stunning story was over.
Yet I adore how it ended. It was the perfect ending to a brilliant story, and I could not have asked for a better conclusion.
What I Didn’t Love . . .
There was literally nothing about this story that I didn’t like.
Okay, so maybe there was one thing. . .
- Justin (a.k.a. Via’s boyfriend dude) – Okay, so this character, despite being one of the more minor characters, had his very own point of view.
- And maybe this is just a petty little peeve of mine, but I really didn’t like how his point of view was written. Like there was little no punctuation at all, and it became slightly aggravating after a while, especially when it came to dialogue.
- Because there were no quotation marks. At all.
- And I’m sure that it was written this way to show this character’s own unique personality, which is awesome, but to me it just made him seem sort of…childish.
- And I did not like this.
- But alas, this is just my opinion!
- Personally, I would have much preferred a few chapters from Julian’s point of view, rather than Justin’s, because I just didn’t feel like looking through Justin’s eyes did a whole lot to flesh out the story.
- And seeing thing’s from Julian’s perspective would have fleshed the story out tremendously.
- But, again, this could just be me.
Overall . . .
THIS BOOK IS AMAZING AND BEAUTIFUL AND YOU MUST READ IT OR I WILL COME FIND YOU AND MURDER YOU WITH A RUSTY PITCHFORK WHILST YOU SLEEP.
Seriously, though. This book was brilliant, peeps. It is a 10/10 recommend for everyone and anyone of any and all ages. It is clean all the way through (from what I can remember [#marshmallowbrain]), despite some slang for the h-word (which I can personally look past with ease because there are much worse words that could have been used).
So, without further ado, let’s load up the tally board, shall we?
— PROS —
- THE CHARACTERS ARE MY SMOL PRECIOUS DARLINGS AND DESERVE ALL OF THE COOKIES!!!!
- The story as a whole is just ASDFGHJKL PERFECT!!!
- The ending is beautiful and cry-worthy, even for the beans whose tear ducts are made of smoke and ash. (like mine.)
- IT IS CLEAN!! REPEAT: THIS BOOK IS CLEAN!!!!
- It is an emotional roller coaster that will have you displaying ALL OF THE EMOTIONS rather animatedly to the public.
— CONS —
- Via’s boyfriend dude’s point of view.
As you can see, I do not take my conning lightly.
Moving on. . .
Overall, I would recommend this story to each and every one of you. If you have not read it, GO PICK IT UP RIGHT NOW, PEASANT, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR???
And if you have read it, then hopefully you will understand all of my massive squealing about how amazing it was.
(and if not WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU, SIR???)
This book reminded me just how much of an impact a story can make on a life. It showed me kindness. It showed me hope. And above all else, it showed me that strength does not come from how many muscles you have or how much power you wield, but from the small things. The tiny decisions we make–to choose kindness over hatred. Love over anger.
“MR. BROWNE’S SEPTEMBER PRECEPT:
WHEN GIVEN THE CHOICE BETWEEN BEING
RIGHT OR BEING KIND, CHOOSE KIND.”
― R.J. Palacio,
Read this book, my dear bean. It will probably change your life.
or, you know, it won’t.
talk to me, peasants . . .
Soooooo?? What did you think? Did I do well for my first ever book review?
(completely disregarding the REAL first ever book review that we shall never speak of) Have you ever read Wonder? If so, what did YOU think? Did you squeal and fume with rage as I did?? And if you haven’t read it yet, WILL you read it because obviously I have persuaded you of it’s epicness with my flawless pro/con list? Of course you will. You are under my control.
I SHALL REIGN SUPREME, MWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!
*flings cookies in the air and disappears*
(P.S. this paragraph looks like a mushroom.)