Wonder

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Welcome back to my blog! Today I decided to review something a little different, Wonder by R.J. Palacio.

August “Auggie” Pullman is a 10-year-old boy who lives in New York City with his mother, father, older sister, and dog Daisy. He is intelligent and a fan of Star Wars. He also has a medical condition that has cause After being homeschooled his entire life, Auggie is enrolled at Beecher Prep School by his parents. He’s nervous to start fifth grade at a real school, but begins to make friends with others and realizes that he is truly a “wonder.”

The story is told from several different points of view, which was a great way of showing how each person has a different way of viewing Auggie’s situation. Auggie himself is used to people’s reactions when they first see him, although it still does bother him a little bit. Auggie’s sister Via, who is used to Auggie getting his parent’s attention and isn’t afraid of standing up for him. There’s Summer, the girl who decides to sit with Auggie at lunch the first day and becomes his first friend. Julian is the bully, who constantly teases Auggie and tries to turn others against him. I could relate to the characters because it reminded me of people I knew during my grade school years.

I was interested to find out that this was RJ Palacio’s debut novel, considering how well it was written. According to her official website, she got the idea for the novel after an experience she had with her young sons who got upset after seeing a child with a facial deformity. I always like it when authors use real-life experiences in their fiction because its makes the story and characters more relatable.

Although this is a novel marketed toward grade schoolers, I recommend Wonder because it can teach both children and adults important lessons on acceptance and the uniqueness of others.

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Summer in the City

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Big cities are definitely a huge cliché when it comes to novels. It’s either where the protagonist lives, visits or wants to move to eventually. The title of Robyn Sisman’s novel Summer in the City implies the plot is centered on the city, but there’s a lot more to the story than that.

Susannah “Suze” Wilding and Lloyd Rockwell are two people who have never met but work for the same advertising agency Schneider Fox; Suze for the London branch and Lloyd for the New York office. Through a work exchange program, it’s arranged that Suze and Lloyd will live in each other’s apartments and work at their company’s respective offices for the summer. Their intentions are pretty different- Suze is ecstatic at the thought of living in the Big Apple and meeting her dream man, while Lloyd is contemplating a future with his girlfriend Betsy, who comes along for the trip.

There are plenty of books that use the exchange trope in a school setting, but this was the first time I had seen it used in a work setting. It made the story interesting to read because it allowed the characters to experience new things and learn more about themselves, despite being in their early 30s.

What I liked most about this novel was Sisman’s ability to write from both an American and British point of view. English is the native language for both countries, but their lifestyles and terms can differ drastically. For example, an “apartment” in the U.S. is usually called a “flat” in the U.K. Not only do Lloyd and Suze both struggle to adapt to each other’s living quarters, but realize that navigating other countries is tricky as well. Sisman actually grew up in both America and Europe, and her knowledge of both places was definitely reflected in her writing. She realistically shows that London and New York are not all lights and glamour.

Since the novel was published in 1998, the story is set in the age where floppy disks, fax machines and videotapes were more commonly used. It was fun to read about professional life in a time where communication was limited to landlines and early email programs.

I recommend this book because it’s a good nostalgic story about how two strangers from two completely different cities can still find some common ground.

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