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Literature / Wonder (2012)

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Wonder is a middle grade realistic fiction novel and R.J. Palacio's debut. It is about a 10-year-old Shrinking Violet who is about to attend school for the first time since he's been too busy with surgeries of his deformed face to go earlier. Although he manages to form a ¡Three Amigos! with his fellow classmates Summer Dawson and Jacklope "Jack" Will, his face scares off or repulsed all of his other classmates, and this novel is about his quest to gain a 100% Adoration Rating in his school. Also has a companion novel, Auggie and Me, published in 2015.

A film adaptation was released by Lionsgate on November 17, 2017, with Jacob Tremblay in the lead role as Auggie, Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson as his parents and Stephen Chbosky as the film's director. Broadway is producing a version of the story.


Provides examples of:

  • Deformed Boys Have Cooties: The Plague.
  • Good Parents: Nate and Isabel Pullman.
  • Good-Times Montage: In the film.
    • The growing friendship between August and Jack is captured in a couple of key moments.
    • Key shots showing the kids enjoying their camping trip.
  • Happily Married: Nate and Isabel Pullman. Other characters including Justin and Olivia notice.
  • Heroic BSoD: August after the Wham Episode at Halloween where he thinks Jack betrayed him. Luckily his sister Via snaps him out of it.
  • Homeschooled Kids: August was homeschooled by his mother all through primary school.
  • Humans Are Bastards / Humans Are Special: The main theme of the novel is what it means to be human.
  • Hypocrite: Played for laughs when the father tells August not to be afraid of anyone. When August asks him why he was whispering, the father says he was afraid of the mother.
  • Implied Love Interest: Summer to August, justified since they're both too young to be dating.
  • It's All About Me: Olivia accuses August of acting like this at one point.
  • Jerkass: Julian counts, but his parents (especially his mother Melissa) manage to outdo him.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Jerk: Julian and Eddie are the only antagonists who don't Heel–Face Turn by the ending. As of the Julian Chapter and White Bird: A Wonder Story this is finally subverted for Julian.
  • Kids Are Cruel: The harsh reality for August at middle school.
  • Killed Off for Real: Daisy, unfortunately. She gets sick and never recovers.
  • Known Only by Their Nickname: Played with. Olivia asks her friends to call her by her full first name while she's only known as "Via" at home.
  • Lady Drunk: Miranda's mother, who didn't get over the breakup with her husband.
  • Like Brother and Sister: Miranda feels this way about Auggie to the point that it felt right for her to pass Via's family as her own to make herself sound more interesting.
  • Lonely Piano Piece: Plays in the movie after the family dog dies.
  • Love Triangle: Jack with Charlotte and Summer, he has in interest in the latter but the former has an interest in HIM. Downplayed, again since they're too young to be dating.
  • MacGuffin: August's astronaut helmet Miranda bought for him which he used to hide his face when he was young. August's dad threw it away to help him come out of his shell.
  • Mixed Ancestry:
    • August and Via are Brazilian on their mom’s side and Russian/Polish Jewish on their dad’s side.
    • Summer is half Black and half white.
    • Ximena Chin is half Chinese and half Mexican.
  • Moment Killer: Parodied when August, his mom, and Jack arrive when Via and Justin are sharing their First Kiss and August and Jack chuckle while August and Via's mom pretends not to notice.
  • Motif: Outer space.
    • Auggie is a big fan of Star Wars.
    • Miranda frequently plays Space Oddity by David Bowie on repeat some of the lyrics to said song also open Olivia's narrative chapter.
    • In Olivia's point of view she begins by describing her family as being like the solar system with Auggie as the sun and compares different family members and friends as different planets.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Jack says this inside his head when he realizes he unintentionally betrayed August.
  • Never My Fault: Julian's mom tries to blame August for Julian's bullying.
  • Nice Girl: Summer is possiby the nicest character in the whole book.
  • Noodle Incident: August and his friends end up calling the Wham Episode at Halloween the "Halloween Incident".
  • Official Couple: Via and Justin.
  • One Steve Limit: Averted. There are two characters named Zack in the book (one is one of August's childhood friends, one is Miranda's boyfriend.) There are also two Maxes in August's school who are Dungeons and Dragons fanatics. And Ella (Miranda's best friend), Eleanor (Via's new friend), and Ellie (one of August's classmates) are three variations on the same name.
  • Onscreen Chapter Titles: In going with the novel, the film is structured in chapters, each announced with a Title Card.
  • Overprotective Dad: Subverted. August's mom wants him to go to school to come out of his shell but his dad is worried about that. After his mom sees what school is like they switch sides.
  • "Pan Up to the Sky" Ending: The movie ends with a pan up from the auditorium to the night sky with August floating in space.
  • Precision F-Strike: August: "I'm not retarded!"note 
  • Product Placement: Lucasfilm would have a field day for how much Star Wars mentions there are.
  • Puppy Love: Deconstructed. The protagonists decide they're too young to be dating, which also leaves an Implied Love Interest between two of them.
  • The Reveal: What August's face looks like.
    • That August's astronaut helmet was Gone All Along. His dad threw it away because he didn't want him to be timid all his life and he actually liked August's face.
  • School Play: Via's actors group performance "Our Town", a play that has certain similarities to the plot as it shares vignettes of various characters at various points in their lives, including both happy times and sad.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: Julian's parents attempt to pull this on Mr Tushman, only for him to counter that he has more connections.
  • Senseless Violins: Discussed. August advises Justin to tell everyone he has a machine gun in his violin case.
  • Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Jack is the Manly Man to August and Justin's Sensitive Guy.
  • He Is Not My Boyfriend: Summer says this when Savanna teases the relationship between her and August.
  • Shout-Out: Before he learns its actual name, August calls The Plague by the in-universe Fan Nickname "The Cheese Touch".
  • Shrinking Violet: August! And Justin.
  • Silly Rabbit, Idealism Is for Kids!: Why Miranda and Ella decided to make themselves Hotter and Sexier for high school.
  • Sixth Ranger: Miranda.
  • Sixth Ranger Traitor: Most of the villains, but most notably Jack.
  • The Stoic: Justin. He even writes in all lowercase!
  • Stripperific: Miranda and Ella's new look. Complete with pink hair and Bare Your Midriff outfits!
  • Switching P.O.V.: Most of the book is centered around August, but the other main characters get to talk about their points of view as well.
  • Sympathetic P.O.V.: The Switching P.O.V. allows the audience to hear some characters' side of the story, like Jack's or Miranda's, who at some point have acted antagonistically.
  • Unfortunate Names: Mr. Tushman. He's pretty much used to the jokes about it and even grins about it himself.
    • In the book, Augie's parents mention having a college teacher named Miss Butt.
  • Verbal Tic: August mumbles a lot during the beginning of the book, but he gets better once he comes out of his shell.
  • Voiceover Letter: In the movie, Jack's letter of excuse to the headmaster and the latter's response are voiced out by the actors.
  • Wham Episode: The so-called "Halloween Incident", where Jack unintentionally betrays August.
    • When Charlotte tells Jack about the "boy war".
    • The introduction of Eddie and the loss of August's hearing aids.
  • What Are Records?: In the movie, Via doesn't know what a floppy disk is. The father explains "it's basically an iPhone".
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: What happened to Via's new friends, Eleanor and Kevin?
    • After the Wham Episode with him, Eddie isn't mentioned again. He is presumed to be expelled.
    • Bear, the successor dog to Daisy after her death, isn't mentioned again after his introduction, and is mainly just a way to soften the death of the Team Pet.


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