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MikeMullin

Mike Mullin, Author

I'm the author of the ASHFALL three-and-a-half-ology: ASHFALL, ASHEN WINTER, SUNRISE, and DARLA'S STORY.

Wonder

Wonder - R.J. Palacio Amazing. Absolutely amazing. Among the best novels I've ever read--note I didn't say best middle-grade novels. This story is so powerful, so beautifully told that it transcends genre. I recommend it for middle-grade students. I recommend it for teenagers. I recommend it for adults--even if you've never read a middle-grade novel, even if you've read and hated middle-grade novels, try this one. A few months ago, after reading a string of YA novels that equated inner beauty with exterior (an infuriating and lazy trope that has infected YA like, well, vampirism), I spent a few fruitless moments raging at the universe, asking where was the brilliant fiction about ugly people. Normally the universe ignores my rants. In this case, however, the universe dropped WONDER into my lap. (Actually I checked it out from my local library. If the universe had literally dropped it into my lap, I imagine that would have hurt. The universe is nothing if not really, really tall. But having read the library copy, I'm going to buy two tomorrow. One for my wife's fourth-grade classroom, and one for me to keep and re-read. It's so good that I want Ms. Palacio to get paid twice.)August Pullman was born with a facial deformity so severe that it and the necessary surgeries prevented him from attending school until the fifth grade. And so his first day at school isn't as one of a flock of terrified kindergarteners--instead, he becomes the chum in the shark tank of middle school. What follows is a beautiful, heart-breaking, terrifying, and funny tale about an extraordinary kid, bullying, and, ultimately, the wondrous power of kindness.The writing is perfect for the story--simple yet lovely, with not an extra word or chapter to mar it. Last year I had a brief conversation with Bruce Coville, in which I argued that a young adult novel with five points-of-view likely wouldn't work or sell, and Bruce argued that I was wrong. Well, I was wrong. (Duh, I know, this was BRUCE FREAKING COVILLE--of course he knows far more about this topic than I!) Anyway, Palacio uses SIX POV characters to get her story across, and does it so seamlessly that there's never a moment where I wondered why she switched viewpoints, or wished she'd get back into Augie's head--although she does, wisely, both begin and end the novel in his perspective.And Palacio doesn't stop transcending genre tropes there, either. There are parents in this book. Lovely, caring parents, of the sort you either had or wish you did. If you've read much YA or middle-grade fiction recently, you know how rare and therefore precious this is.So, I know this is a random collection of fanboy raving, and I should really wait to hit Save until I've gone back and edited this review a little, but then you'd have to wait to find out how awesome WONDER is and START READING IT FOR YOURSELF! So I'll clean this up later and repost here and on my blog. In the meantime, why are you still reading this? You could be reading WONDER!