Jumping on the bandwagon – loved it, absolutely loved it. I laughed, I cried, all that jazz.
Funny too, because based on the description (a boy with a severe facial deformity attends school for the first time) I did NOT want to read this. It sounded like the biggest downer or, worse, a goopy feel good mush fest. Palacio walks a fine line here and does it with such finesse it’s nearly unbelievable that this is her first novel. It’s not perfect, but there are so many perfect little moments that just radiate truth and beauty.
Because I’m tired/lazy I’m just going to make a list of my thoughts:
- Loved the multiple and varied representations of parents/adult authority figures. It’s so rare that adults get to exist, let alone be human and relatable, in a kid’s novel.
- Loved the realistic idea that, for most people, being kind isn’t the default setting. Neither is being cruel, however. Instead the easiest/safest thing is to just not stand for anything.
- Mostly loved all the different points of view and the clever way each perspective gives the reader insight into different characters and situations. In just one sentence I understood why kindness came so naturally to Summer. Then, in another couple paragraphs, I knew exactly why Julian was the way he was and why he’d probably never change.
- On the other hand, my least favorite sections were those dealing with the teen sister and her circle of friends. I feel they could have been left out and the novel would have been just as good - if not better.
- An odd coincidence – this is the second novel in a row I’ve read which referenced David Bowie’s song ‘Space Oddity’ multiple times.
- Although it’s attractive and eye catching, I just don’t love that cover. I realizing that designing for this particular story had to be a pretty big conundrum, but I think this one is a misfire.
- Normally it annoys me when novels repeatedly reference pop culture, but it kind of works here. I just hope it doesn’t terribly date this wonderful book in a few years!
- This is that rare book that adults and children will love equally. It has a fast, fun and engaging plot for kids, but so full of heart and meaning that adults will also love reading and discussing it with kids.