The hero of this book (and what a hero) is Auggie, who has grown up with a medical condition that leaves him with a facial disfigurement. Because of this his parents have taken the decision to homeschool him, but they have now decided it is time to get out in the world and start middle school. This is the journey we go on with our plucky protagonist, as he navigates the school corridors and cafeterias that are such terrifying places for all of us, let alone for someone who is faced by the challenges that he is.
The novel is told from several different perspectives and it is this, and the sheer quality and warmth of the writing that ensures that by the time we turn the final page we have got to know the entire cast of characters so well. We become intimately involved with Auggie, his parents, his older sister, his friends, even his teachers – to the point at which we start to feel their pain as if it was our own.
A book with this premise could have ended up heavy, and even as I am reading back over this review it sounds like a slightly grim read, but it’s actually not at all. It’s quite the opposite in fact. It’s funny and inspiring and sweet and moving and uplifting, and this is because this is not a novel about pain or barriers or challenges, but about overcoming them. It’s about friendship and love and loyalty and bravery and being yourself and staying true to what you believe. It’s also incredibly compelling and hard to put down, and an extremely well crafted book, full of beauty and wisdom. It’s unassuming, sweet and full of heart, just like its protagonist.