Born with several genetic abnormalities, 10-year-old August Pullman, called Auggie, dreams of being “ordinary.” Inside, he knows he’s like every other kid, but even after 27 surgeries, the central character of “Wonder” bears facial disfigurations so pronounced that people who see him for the first time do “that look-away thing” — if they manage to hide their shock and horror.
“Whatever you’re thinking, it’s probably worse,” he says of his face as the book begins. He’s used to the stares and mean comments, but he’s still terrified to learn that his parents have gotten him into middle school at Beecher Prep and want him to go there rather than be home-schooled. But they persuade him to give it a try — and by the time this rich and memorable first novel by R. J. Palacio is over, it’s not just Auggie but everyone around him who has changed.
New York Times
John Dante is so enmeshed in WW II’s patriotic fever that he can hardly wait for his 18th birthday, in 1942, to enlist. Meanwhile, his sister, stricken with empathy and concern, is engaged to two soldiers and pregnant by a third; Dad, a nuclear physicist, is called from Pittsburgh to California for secret research; and John falls sweetly, ardently in love with pretty Ginny, who urges him to become a conscientious objector. To John, her fervent pacifism is incomprehensible; but as he endures active combat, without relief, until 1945, stereotypes give way to the reality of the enemy’s humanity, and Ginny’s ideas become clear. Still, after his long immersion in horror, John never communicates with her again-until a message at the end of this novel, narrated in 1992 when he’s a retired professor in Canada: “I want you to know that I am really alive. And I still love you.” Yet John has not been “alive” as he might have been: a lifelong solitary, he was even driven from his home by the war (“I could not stay in America because America had not suffered”). Rylant depicts-with some irony and much insight and compassion-the tragedy of young men putting aside their true selves and fighting in a war in which they ultimately lose faith.
Bridget, Lena, Carmen and Tibby are best friends who have known each other all their lives. But this summer–their fifteenth summer–is the first summer they will be separated. Bridget, a tall beautiful athlete, is going to Baja California for soccer camp. Quiet, instrospective Lena is going to Greece to visit grandparents she’s never met. Carmen, who’s dad left her and her mom when she was little and only visits three or four times a year, is going to visit him for the whole summer. And Tibby, poor Tibby, is the only one stuck at home working a summer job in a drug store.
But on the night before they are to go their separate ways, they discover a pair of pants, which magically fit each of the various-sized girls perfectly! They decide to share the pants–each girl will wear them for a week and then mail them to the next girl so that each girl gets the pants for two weeks during the summer. As they head their separate ways, things don’t turn out quite as planned for anyone. Bridget falls in love with an older guy who is a coach at soccer camp. Lena’s grandmother tries to set her up with a Greek boy from her village. Carmen’s dad surprises her by bringing her home to a fiancee and two teenaged stepchildren he never told her about. And Tibby is befriended by a twelve year old with leukemia. They all face tough decisions and tough situations that require all the power that the pants and their friendship can provide.
Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.
Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.
The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?
Before. Miles “Pudge” Halter’s whole existence has been one big nonevent, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave the “Great Perhaps” (François Rabelais, poet) even more. Then he heads off to the sometimes crazy, possibly unstable, and anything-but-boring world of Culver Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite of safe. Because down the hall is Alaska Young. The gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, self-destructive, screwed-up, and utterly fascinating Alaska Young, who is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart.
After. Nothing is ever the same.
Quentin Jacobsen has spent a lifetime loving the magnificently adventurous Margo Roth Spiegelman from afar. So when she cracks open a window and climbs back into his life – dressed like a ninja and summoning him for an ingenious campaign of revenge – he follows.
After their all-nighter ends and a new day breaks, Q arrives at school to discover that Margo, always an enigma, has now become a mystery. But Q soon learns that there are clues – and they’re for him. Urged down a disconnected path, the closer Q gets, the less Q sees the girl he thought he knew.