Monday, August 15, 2016

Non-Fiction Monday: Ugly by Robert Hoge

Ugly by Robert Hoge. 200 p. Viking/ Penguin Random House LLC., September 6, 2016. 9780425287750. (Review from arc courtesy of publisher.)

Wonder by R.J. Palacio is a perennial favorite at my school. If I had a nickel for every time a student asked for a "book like Wonder," I could buy a lot of books for the library. I have a few books that fill the bill but none so perfect as this one.

"I'm the ugliest person you've never met." These words are featured prominently on the back cover of this memoir, which has been adapted for young readers from one of the same name for adults. 

In 1972, Robert Hoge was born in Australia. He was the fifth child. His mother's pregnancy was normal. His birth was supposed to be routine. Only, he had a tumor the size of a tennis ball between his eyes and "mangled" legs. With heartbreaking honesty, he writes that his mother refused to even look at him. She did not visit him in the nursery. She left him in the hospital and returned home to her four children. A doctor told her to institutionalize her newborn. Instead, she and her husband explained the situation to Robert's siblings and asked them if they should bring the baby home. 

Once he was brought home, his mother became his fiercest advocate and strived to make life as normal as possible for her son. He spent a lot of time in hospitals having multiple, sometimes life-threatening surgeries. Despite his loving home life, life outside was often daunting.

Young readers will be captivated by Hoge's compelling story, punctuated with humor and a dash of mischievousness. The chapters are short, with occasional pencil illustrations (Art was not complete in arc). The style is episodic. The tone is conversational. 

This is a worthy addition to the memoir unit and a must-purchase for school and public libraries where those Wonder fans want more. I can't wait to share this with my students come September. 

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