12 year-old Will’s dad died when he was four, he’s got hardly any friends and school bullies call him Turtle Boy not because he loves turtles (which he does) but because of a facial difference that is causing him to feel more and more self conscious as he grows older. Will has enough of his own problems to deal with, so when his Rabbi at the synagogue suggests he visits a very sick 16 year old at the local hospital as part of his community service project it seems like the worst idea ever. But it’s through these visits with RJ that Will discovers there’s so much more to life than retreating into your shell, especially when RJ begs him to do all the things left on his bucket list before he dies.
This is a wonderful, funny, sad and profound story. It’s very well written in first person and readers will really be able to get inside Will’s head. Interestingly the book began as an autobiographical comic strip in the same style as Jeff Kinney’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid, and the directness and relatability of this book, as well as its American backdrop, are somewhat similar.
A brilliant book that will give inspiration to anyone who has felt different, ugly or scared to try something new - perfect for 12 year olds on the cusp of navigating a new teenage world. A lovely mixture of being easy to read but with deep and serious themes, this is a really engaging read that will suit fans of RJ Palacio’s Wonder.