This young adult fiction novel is a highly recommended read for just that – young adults. As an adult reader, something is a little missing. But this is the kind of thing you hope your children or students would read and gain a more open perspective on the differences of others.
August Pullman, our central character, has a facial deformity. It is never discussed in a great deal of detail other than these few hints:
- other children asking him if he has been burnt
- a sense of his face being misshapen, and his eyes being lower than they should be
- his ears resembling cauliflower
- an inability to read his facial expressions easily
Auggie, whilst well loved by his family and those who have known him for a long time, suffers prejudice, ridicule and resentment from most of the people he encounters. And this year, in Grade 5, he is going to school for the first time.
Over the year, this book charts Auggie’s journey, as well as those around him. The new people he meets have to come to terms with his appearance and whether or not the peer pressure to exclude Auggie will overcome their empathy and their genuine liking for this funny and gentle boy. His sister is trying to carve her own identity away from Auggie. And his parents just want him to be happy.
It’s lovely to see so many attitudes change throughout the book, and for Auggie to spread his wings and grow. This is a great book to help students develop empathy for others and to encourage them to see beyond what their eyes tell them.