Book review: Wonder by R.J. Palacio (9780375899881)

I know I’m not an ordinary ten-year-old kid…I know ordinary kids don’t make other kids run away screaming in playgrounds.  I know ordinary kids don’t get scared at wherever they go.  My name is August, by the way, I won’t describe what I look like.  Whatever you’re thinking, it’s probably worse.

August may not look like an ordinary kid, but he loves to do things that ordinary kids like to do such as play games, joke with friends, and do things with family.  He was born with a facial malformation and has undergone extensive, painful surgeries that have eventually improved many factors of this life.  However, the kids at his new school don’t understand why August is different.  As August says, “They were just being normal dumb kids.

You see August has been home schooled by his mother all his life and his parents finally decided that it may be beneficial for August to go to school and try to interact with kids his own age.   At first, he wasn’t thrilled with the idea, but he made a few friends and he really liked going to school, until he runs into some problems that may change his mind.

This book is ultimately about August and how life effects him and is not only written in his point of view, but in other points of view such as his sister Via, his new friend Jack and Summer and others he meets on the way which are very important to the story as well.

How can I express my feelings for this book?  It is funny, moving and thought provoking.  It is wonderfully written and the characters are real.  I recommend that everyone of all ages read this book and hopefully it will make you reflect on your life and how you feel about yourself and others.  One could only hope to become the person that August is.  August is cool beans!

Thank you to R.J. Palacio, Random House Children’s Books and NetGalley for giving me the opportunity to review this book.   Ms. Palacio’s blog is at is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and many other bookstores.

Book review: Running Around (And Such) by Linda Byler (9781561486885)

I am a big fan of young adult and Christian fiction and was excited about reading Ms. Byler’s debut novel. However, I found the book to be choppy and slow to get to the meaning of the book title, running around. It wasn’t until most of the way through the book that the main character, Lizzie, spoke about the concept.

Personally, I did not like the main character, Lizzie, one of five Amish children, who seemed much more immature than her younger siblings. Her whining and “whoa is me” tones about her life in a new community were nerve racking and I just wanted the author to get on with the story.

Unfortunately, I found the story to be disappointing due to the main character and how it skipped months at a time between chapters and did not have a nice flow.  I will probably not read the next book in the series where I hope Lizzie starts acting more mature.

Book Review: Annie’s Ghosts: A Journey into a Family Secret by Steve Luxenberg (9781401322472)

ef6915d875944e459394d375551417941414141“Without really trying, I have become a collector of other families’ secrets.” –Steve Luxenberg.

Steve Luxenberg’s memoir reads like a mystery.  In the Spring of 1995, Steve finds out that his mother, Beth, had a sister, Annie, who was mentally and physically disabled.  This and other family secrets unfold in a number of shocking revelations and frustrating dead ends.

His story explores the history of mental institutions and how those patients had fewer rights than criminals.  It explores the life of poor Jewish immigrants who tried to make ends meet the best way they knew how by sacrificing things they held dear.  Most importantly it is a personal story of a man who wants to find answers to get closure from a life of secrets.

Steve is a journalist for The Washington Post and the perfect person to do research for his families’ story.  Through interviews, letters, documents, and hospital records he traces Annie’s history which kept this reader on the edge of her seat.  I commend Steve for telling such a personal story which helps us to reflect on what is important to us in our lives.