August “Auggie” Pullman has a facial deformity that attracts a lot of unwanted attention. He’s been home schooled through fourth grade and is going to start school at Beecher Prep for fifth grade. Throughout the year, he and his fellow fifth graders learn a lot about growing up, being kind, and standing up for what’s being right. On a personal level, Auggie and his family learn how to adjust their lives as their youngest member comes into his own.
The story is engrossing, and frankly makes me jealous I didn’t go to this school. Being a quick and enjoyable read, it was hard to put the book down. I didn’t care for the amount of points of view, each section of the book being told by a different character; it became distracting. There were several points of view that were missing, making the story feel somewhat lopsided. What it does accomplish is giving us a well rounded look at what it means to be kind. This is a great book for anyone to learn empathy. Especially because Auggie is not treated as a saint nor do we feel forced to like him.
As an educator, I did have real reservations about the ways in teachers, and parents, infantilized him. The fifth graders didn’t seem age appropriate; they seemed more like eighth or ninth graders. And the graduation ceremony for fifth and sixth graders seemed way too over the top. There’s no need to have a ceremony for moving from fifth to sixth or seventh to eighth. That seemed to cater to millennial parents who need to have every opportunity to have their child recognized.