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#219 ~ The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Cover of The Perks of Being a Wallflower

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Charlie is the misfit of his family.  His older siblings, a football star who has gone on to play for Penn State and a socially popular sister, have seemingly made a success of their high school careers.  Charlie has had a more difficult time.  The death of his maternal aunt has had a huge impact on his life and his mental stability.  Despite having to deal with the death of a close loved one and the things he’s seen as a result of having older siblings, Charlie is painfully naive.  At the same time, his intuition is good.  He runs into a stroke of luck when he becomes friends with Patrick and his half-sister Sam.  These unlikely friendships provide Charlie with a larger, much more experienced social group.  They become the framework through which he comes to terms with his past and embraces his future.

If there was one section of this book that spoke to me of my own adolescents and made me want to take Charlie in my arms for a long hug, it was the Secret Santa.  Being a newbie to this group of friends, the Secret Santa meant so much to him.  He took pains to select just the right things and his desire to please his friends was not necessarily returned.  You feel like such a fool when something like that happens.  You’re exposed as if you have played all of your cards.  I know I did. One year that I spent all of my money buying gifts for each of the girls in my circle of friends. Unfortunately, if I got anything from most of the girls, it was a candy cane.  The disappointment isn’t about not getting anything in return.  It is just a hard way to learn that your feelings are not returned.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower contains course language, sexual content, drug use, and violence toward women, but these very adult topics are not glamorized.  You see how miserable the older sister or friend is when she is mistreated.  You see how drugs have paralyzed people’s lives.  You see how everyone’s heart can be broken, be they hetero or homosexual.  While reading this novel it’s pretty clear that the worst thing you can do is to repeatedly make the same mistakes, never learning from them or coming to terms with yourself.  Just because you’ve fallen in a trap doesn’t mean you are stuck there. I understand the concerns around this novel.  Read the book.  It opens the door to a great deal of conversation.  If only you’re ready, you can learn a lot about where your children are emotionally.  If you’re open, they might just learn a lot about you, too.

I purchased this novel after it was removed from the library of William Byrd High School in Vinton, VA.  I would personally like to thank disgruntled parent, Mr. John Davis, for bringing this novel to my attention.  This book was for me what The Catcher in the Rye never was.  I thoroughly enjoyed it and the conversation it fostered with me and some of my best friends.  I can only imagine how this book might impact me if I were closer to my adolescent years.  Young adult novels do not have to be benign or puritanical to be appropriate.  So much is happening emotionally during high school and fiction is one of the safest environments in which to explore new feelings and ideas.  I think we ought to give teenagers more credit when it comes to comprehending and responding to fiction.  This is definitely one challenged book that I would challenge you to read.

Other Voices:

(brought to you by Fyrefly‘s amazing Book Blogs Search Engine)

Books, Lists, Life http://bookslistslife.blogspot.com/2009/01/review-perks-of-being-wallflower-by.html
The  Book Lady’s Blog http://thebookladysblog.com/2008/09/27/in-praise-of-banned-books-day-1-the-perks-of-being-a-wallflower/
Bart’s Bookshelf http://www.bartsbookshelf.co.uk/2008/11/24/the-perks-of-being-a-wallflower-by-stephen-chbosky/
Reading Thru the Night http://annotatedreading.blogspot.com/2009/01/found-keeper.html
things mean a lot http://www.thingsmeanalot.com/2008/11/perks-of-being-wallflower-by-stephen.html
books i done read http://booksidoneread.blogspot.com/2008/03/perks-of-being-wallflower-stephen.html
Hey, Teenager http://heyteenager.blogspot.com/2009/12/perks-of-being-wallflower-by-steven.html

Piling on the Books http://pilethemon.blogspot.com/2009/10/perks-of-being-wallflower-by-stephen.html

Books, Lists, Life
The Book Lady’s Blog
Bart’s Bookshelf
Reading Thru the Night
things mean a lot
books i done read
Hey, Teenager
Piling on the Books

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19 Comments

  • At 2009.12.14 09:43, Jess - A Book Hoarder said:

    I read this book a couple years ago and absolutely loved it. I’m glad you enjoyed it as well.

    I guess the silver lining of it being challenged is that it is brought to the attention of people who will read challenged books.

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    • At 2009.12.14 09:43, Sandyr said:

      I’m with you – I think more kids should read books like this. I mean, who, in their adolescent years, didn’t suffer? Unless you were one of the elite (which I was not) these are real issues, ones that inspire depression at the very least. Awesome review. I’ve marked it down!

      • At 2009.12.14 09:50, Nicole said:

        I never read this as an adolescent either, but from your review it seems like it wold have been a valuable and worthwhile read. Glad that John Davis could help!

        • At 2009.12.14 10:50, nomadreader said:

          I read this book right after high school, and I loved it. I need to reread it. I’m continuously surprised to see this book appear on challenged and banned lists, but I only hope it makes more teenagers read it.

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          • At 2009.12.14 10:59, Kathy R (Bermudaonion) said:

            This book sounds wonderful and the fact that it was banned makes it even more enticing. I’ll have to look for it.

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            • At 2009.12.14 12:34, Aarti said:

              I got this book at a banned books event earlier this year. It’s gotten great reviews, though I haven’t opened it yet. I’ll have to do so soon!

              • At 2009.12.14 15:33, Michelle said:

                I love love love this book. I was well into my 20s by the time I read it but I’m so glad that I did. I’d heard mixed reviews so I wasn’t sure what to expect but it was simply amazing to me.

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                • At 2009.12.14 16:24, Ti said:

                  I really loved this book. It spoke to me. My book group friend had been trying to get me to read it for so long and I was like, so not interested. However, I gave it a shot over Christmas break a few years back and was so sorry that I had waited so long.

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                  • At 2009.12.14 19:12, Emily said:

                    As irate as I was with that whole issue at William Byrd, I’m glad it gave me an excuse to re-read the book — it is a really good book. I’m glad so many people ran out and read it and discussed it, too. After reading about that parent, and all the horrid emails that poor teacher received, it restored my faith in humanity a bit 🙂

                    • At 2009.12.14 22:26, Lisa said:

                      My daughter really liked this book and I’ve got it on the reading list for next year. Glad to know that, as a grownup, I’ll enjoy it, too.

                      • At 2009.12.14 22:58, Heather @ Book Addiction said:

                        I LOVE this book so much. I read it when I was 22 and even though my high school years were thankfully far behind me at that point, it brought back so many emotions and memories – both good and bad. I agree that it’s a perfect book for teens because books like this help kids realize that they are not alone, that the stuff they go through is normal and they aren’t the only person in the world with their particular brand of suffering. I’m glad you enjoyed it so much!

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                        • At 2009.12.15 00:10, A Bookshelf Monstrosity said:

                          I remember being so excited when you posted that you were going to read this book sometime in the near future a few months ago. I read this book when it was first published and I was a teenager. It was an important book to me at the time and continues to be one of my all-time favorites and one I recommend often. I’m glad you took the time to experience this challenged book.

                          • At 2009.12.19 10:10, Shweta said:

                            This has been on my radar but never got a chance to read it. I think I will get to it sooner than I had thought. Great review

                            • At 2009.12.19 10:33, CLM said:

                              Only recently put this on my TBR list but now I will move it higher. If there is anything I can’t take it is parents who try to censor books in libraries. And I thought I was the only one who never really got Catcher in the Rye!

                              • At 2009.12.22 12:47, S. Krishna said:

                                I definitely want to read this book. Thanks for the review.

                                • […] #219 ~ The Perks of Being a Wallflower […]

                                  • At 2011.09.28 00:02, Take This Book and Ban It said:

                                    […] me, this was the case with The Perks of Being a Wallflower. A parent, as seen in the video below, found his son attentively reading a copy of this book. […]

                                    • […] Literate Housewife […]

                                      • At 2012.09.30 11:49, Roof Beam Reader said:

                                        This is my favorite book of all-time. I’ve read it, I don’t know, 6? 8? times? I only just managed to actually write a proper review for it this year, though. I wanted to be sure to get my thoughts down, with the movie coming out and all (and the movie, by the way, was perfect!).

                                        “Young adult novels do not have to be benign or puritanical to be appropriate. So much is happening emotionally during high school and fiction is one of the safest environments in which to explore new feelings and ideas. I think we ought to give teenagers more credit when it comes to comprehending and responding to fiction. This is definitely one challenged book that I would challenge you to read.”

                                        Yes.

                                        (Required)
                                        (Required, will not be published)

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