This is a remarkable book, all the more impressive because it’s Paacio’s first novel. I hope her publishers know what they have here. Though currently marketed for younger readers, I think this could crossover to many if not all ages.
Palacio’s plotting is masterful. She uses various points of view to tell the story of Auggie Pullman, who has a combination of issues (one of which he can’t pronounce) that cause his face to look quite unusual. The premise that gets the book going is that his parents have finally decided that he should go to a regular school.
What I admired most about the book is the way that Palacio consistently surprised me. I don’t mean with sudden revelations, but with writing choices (the narrators, for example) that kept me interested. I also think she got the tone of 5th grade absolutely right. This is an author who gets school and the 5th grade mind – neither of which are easy.
Though there are a few predictable things here (the underdog story, the important English teacher), but just when I was going to be disappointed about how Palacio leaves Julian (a kind of antagonist), she gives him one last moment that speaks that makes him, like all of the other characters (parents included, which is also impressive), remarkable and well-rounded. This is a great, great book.