READ THIS! {Wonder}

December's READ THIS! choice, Wonder by R.J. Palacio, was an excellent read! 

Amazon describes this book as, "August Pullman was born with a facial deformity that, up until now, has prevented him from going to a mainstream school. Starting 5th grade at Beecher Prep, he wants nothing more than to be treated as an ordinary kid—but his new classmates can’t get past Auggie’s extraordinary face. WONDER, now a #1 New York Times bestseller and included on the Texas Bluebonnet Award master list, begins from Auggie’s point of view, but soon switches to include his classmates, his sister, her boyfriend, and others. These perspectives converge in a portrait of one community’s struggle with empathy, compassion, and acceptance. 'Wonder is the best kids' book of the year,' said Emily Bazelon, senior editor at and author of Sticks and Stones: Defeating the Culture of Bullying and Rediscovering the Power of Character and Empathy. In a world where bullying among young people is an epidemic, this is a refreshing new narrative full of heart and hope. R.J. Palacio has called her debut novel “a meditation on kindness” —indeed, every reader will come away with a greater appreciation for the simple courage of friendship. Auggie is a hero to root for, a diamond in the rough who proves that you can’t blend in when you were born to stand out."

I have to tell you - I absolutely fell in love with Auggie and his world. Going into the story, I thought it would be a standard tale of "see the good in everyone, no matter what they look like," but as I read I discovered that this story was so much more than that. The story - the telling of which is split between a few different characters - shows the ordinary and extraordinary moments in a life that is anything but ordinary. Not merely just an anti-bullying piece, it is also a story that actively engages the reader into believing that anything is possible and that everyone does very much have a place in this world.

One of my favorite parts of the book were the precepts, or words to live by, from Auggie's english teacher. One of my favorites is the fourth precept - Virgil's quote "Fortune favors the bold." I think that this is so true on a level outside of the book, but Palacio ties Auggie's story into it by showing us that bold acts - whether from Auggie or his friends or his family - are what truly make people stand out. 

For those of you that read along in December - did you have a favorite precept? What about a favorite character? Did you empathize with Via or some of Auggie's classmates? Did you enjoy reading about the other side of this issue? I'd love to hear what you thought!!

And now, without further ado - as January is already a few days underway - January's READ THIS book choice, The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt...

Amazon describes this books as, "Composed with the skills of a master, The Goldfinch is a haunted odyssey through present day America and a drama of enthralling force and acuity. It begins with a boy. Theo Decker, a thirteen-year-old New Yorker, miraculously survives an accident that kills his mother. Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don't know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by his unbearable longing for his mother, he clings to one thing that reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the underworld of art. As an adult, Theo moves silkily between the drawing rooms of the rich and the dusty labyrinth of an antiques store where he works. He is alienated and in love-and at the center of a narrowing, ever more dangerous circle. The Goldfinch is a novel of shocking narrative energy and power. It combines unforgettably vivid characters, mesmerizing language, and breathtaking suspense, while plumbing with a philosopher's calm the deepest mysteries of love, identity, and art. It is a beautiful, stay-up-all-night and tell-all-your-friends triumph, an old-fashioned story of loss and obsession, survival and self-invention, and the ruthless machinations of fate."

After hearing about the excellence of the book from my mom, I gave it as a gift to a teacher I work with and now it seems that everyone I know is reading it - from my stepmom to Facebook friends! It's not a short story, but I am excited to dive into this novel! I hope you'll join me!



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