Ahh I completed my 1 Year, 100 Books Challenge!!! and if I made this the last book of the Challenge instead of The God of Small Things (I had both already borrowed) I would have probably finished the challenge on Christmas as opposed to the last day :/ in fact I probably would have picked this if it fit in my bag. Instead I saved this book for the long drives to and from Melbourne, but it took less than a car trip to finish it (leaving me bookless for the return D:). But the 1 Year, 100 Books Challenge is finished, and 2013 brings a new challenge and this is the first entry more info on the challenge here. Unless you have a problem with heartwarming and happiness in books, I recommend this book to everyone.
Author: R.J. Palacio
Date of Completion: 1/1/2012
Rating: 5 stars
August 'Auggie' Pullman is just an ordinary kid, or he would like to be. No supernatural abilities this time, its an extraordinarily disfigured face that's stopping him. We join him and the people close to him through his first year in the real world, year 5. Its a heartwarming tale of adjusting and accepting: Auggie and his sister to a new school, his classmates, and the school staff to him, and Jack, Summer and Miranda to new social standings. And although its technically a childrens book, its suitable for all ages, I read it, enjoyed it and immediately passed it onto my sister (aged 11), I have also heard adults who've liked it, one of which is the brilliant Rick Riordan.
Auggie - an great lead character, who isn't unusual in personality but still interesting to read about. He has his quirks and all his decisions and reactions are understandable and realistic. His perspective on his adjusting to his new situation is great to read about. He acknowledges that people change around him, and no one is unaffected, but he doesn't always realise the extent of this.Its great that he isn't just a regular character + a deformed face, he has his own interests too.
Via - A very understanding and understandable character. Her acceptance that her brother might be rushed off any second and her defensiveness of him is incredibly mature for her age. But she's not going to be pushed over by him and wishes to be her own person not "August's sister", and all of this is very relateable. I completely understood her feelings and reactions to her brother, Miranda's transformation, infatuation with the shy boy, and wanting to refresh her image with the new school.
Jack & Summer - Both break the status quo and become August's friends. This both leads to negative outcomes with their social standings. Summer is your friendly girl, who's wondering when did everyone suddenly grow up? (totally relateable for me, like seriously what happened to Halloween) quite mature for the people she's surrounded with, and all round cool beans. Jack is a well-crafted character who has multiple sides to him, he falls socially even harder than Summer, and he's resilient enough to cope with his mistakes. Both his fallouts and reactions to them are realistic and understandable.
Miranda & Justin - Miranda is Via's ex-bestie, who came back all different after camp. I was a bit irked when she said she had earned the right to call Auggie her brother, like you can say "he basically like my brother", but the way she said it just seemed like "I was great to this kid, Via and I were buds, now I am inserting myself into the Pullman family". I enjoyed her "but no one there to see" chapter, it was really sweet and you emphathize with her. When she explains it all its just like "oh my god! couldn't you just tell her?!?!" but you know, people make mistakes, and this book has that a lot. Justin, ermahgerd, reading his chapter was infuriating, he's not an bad character, the things he says aren't annoying, just the way its written, which is why I'll cover it in the writing section. But I think his part should have been skipped because it doesn't bring much to the table and its a pain to read. Otherwise fine, also his portrait thingy looks like Harry Potter.
Julian - When you read about the stuff he does, you're just like "He is just a douchebag. Why does he even bother being so mean?" and then you realise there are a whole lot of jerk kids who are unnecessarily mean in all real schools. His character is relistic, his actions are completely feasible, no over-the-top business, no brainwashing of classmates or just trying to off Auggie when he gets too much, it works. He's one of those kids you want tell their parents to teach them better.
Others - You get Mr Tushman's struggle with trying to keep everyone happy with Auggie's arrival, what a sweet dude. Eddie totally fits the High School bogan to a T. Julian's Mum should just accept the world is not perfect instead of trying to sugarcoat it. And nawww I just adore the supportiveness of the Pullman family, its just so great, they think of whats best for each other :)
I don't want to be spoilery, but like the plot has a lot of events within that school year, so there's more than the summary. The Bleeding Scream thing made me want to hug Auggie, no one wants friends bitching behind each others backs, but it happens. The Plague thing makes you want to slap some people, because its sick (no pun intended). I felt like crying when **SPOILER ALERT** Daisy died **END SPOILER**. But most of the time I felt like smiling, they all go through a lot they all grow and learn things through these experiences. They learn what matters and I'm just a major sap ok.
Its split into 10 parts, written in first person from the perspectives of August, Via, Summer, Jack, Justin and Miranda, and somehow the writing from 6 different points of view actually works. All of them are realistic, even though I would imagine an adult writing from 11 yr old's point of view would be hard. It gives a good range of voices and it works well. The except to that is Justin's POV, I mentioned above, it's infuriating to read, like seriously I'd take whiny crappy perfection compaining young adult heroines over this any day. Why u no use punctuation and grammar Justin? Grammar nazis (like myself) will be in agony reading this part, I'd probably just skip it, it doesn't add much, if I were the author I would delete his part, same goes if I was the editor. Its well paced too, like a lot of books I've read seem like 'woah so many things have happened, what?!?! Its only been 2 months, if not less' but this feels like its actual gone for a year. Regardless of its timeframe, it keeps you turning the pages.
Quotes: “Courage. Kindness. Friendship. Character. These are the qualities that define us as human beings, and propel us, on occasion, to greatness.”
“If every person in this room made it a rule that wherever you are, whenever you can, you wil try to act a little kinder than is necessary - the world really would be a better place. And if you do this, if you act just a little kinder than is necessary, someone else, somewhere, someday, may recognize in you, in every single one of you, the face of God.”
“Now that I look back, I don't know why I was so stressed about it all this time. Funny how sometimes you worry a lot about something and it turns out to be nothing.”
“The things we do outlast our mortality. The things we do are like monuments that people build to honor heroes after they've died. They're like the pyramids that the Egyptians built to honor the pharaohs. Only instead of being made of stone, they're made out of the memories people have of you.”
Other: The cover's really interesting, but Auggie won't tell you what he looks like (Via does it for him) I assumed his facial abnormality would be like Prince Zuko's scar.
Unrelated Extra: For them easily amused like myself this is the thing for you, I never knew something so simple could be so entertaining: Koalas to the Max! also the pictures change and are all cute.