The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

August 18, 2012 Stephen Chbosky, Young Adult 11

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen ChboskyTitle: The Perks of Being a Wallflower (Goodreads)
Author: Stephen Chbosky
Published: MTV Books, 1999
Pages: 224
Genre: Young Adult
My Copy: Personal Copy

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I’ve wanted to read The Perks of Being a Wallflower for the simple reason that the synopsis reminded me of John Green’s Looking for Alaska, and let’s face it, John Green writes some great books. Stephen Chbosky’s debut novel is a real knock out; I’m not sure if he will write another one but judging by this book, I hope he does. Charlie is a wallflower, who is writing letters to an unknown friend as a therapeutical way to express his feelings about his life. His only friend is his High School English teacher who keeps giving Charlie great books to read. Charlie’s life changes when he becomes friends with some seniors; Patrick and Sam.

This book is third on the American Library Association’s list of the top ten most frequently challenged books as of 2009 for a few different reasons which I will look into one at a time.

Drugs: Alcohol and Drug experimentation is an issue teenagers have to deal with. While I don’t agree with the use of drugs, banning a book because of drug use is just avoiding the issue at hand.
Homosexuality: This should never be an issue, why do we want to hide the fact that some people have a same sex attraction? I kind of feel like avoiding this issue is a primary cause for the hurt and mistreatment of homosexuals. We should be accepting of everyone.
Sex: If a young adult book isn’t dealing with the issue of sex then you are just saying that teenagers shouldn’t have hormones.
Suicide: This book is not promoting suicide, it is exploring the hurt and the effect of a suicide has on the people closest to the victim.

It is true that I’m opposed to censor and banning books, if we don’t talk about the issues and just avoid them, who will teenagers turn to if they have an issue? We need to allow people to express their feelings and create a world where it is acceptable to have a dialogue about the issues they are facing. Banning a book like this would never have a positive effect except for maybe make teenagers want to read it more.

Now that I’ve had a vent about challenging a book like this, I want to talk about what I love about this book. The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a series of letters and I felt like I was having a sneak peek into the life of a struggling teenager that reminds me a lot of myself when I was in High School. The novel covers so many interesting aspects involved with being a teenager from depression, loneliness, sexuality, friendships, relationships and even music and literature.

Charlie is such a great character and I loved peeking into his life. Sam is adorable but I never fell in love with her like I did with Alaska but she still really helped the story. But my favourite character was the English teacher. I like that he encouraged Charlie to read books like The Great Gatsby, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Stranger and even Naked Lunch!

When I think of YA novels, these are the types of novels I really enjoy. John Green is a master at this realistic contemporary young adult novels; The Perks of Being a Wallflower is definitely another highly recommended one. I’m yet to read a David Levithan novel, but I’m looking forward to experiencing more books that are similar to this style.

While the writing did feel very basic, The Perks of Being a Wallflower is driven by the quirky life of Charlie and his letters. I never wanted to stop reading, I felt myself always wanting to know what will happen next. I really enjoyed this book and I’m excited about the coming film adaptation. Author Stephen Chbosky wrote the screenplay and is directing the adaptation so I think that it will be faithful to the novel, I just hope doesn’t lose the charm found in the book.

  • Jess resides here

    John Green books are high up on my must read list and I so agree with you on banning books. It’s just plain wrong. You never ban books. Never ever the fact that it still happens makes me wonder about people

    • Michael Kitto

      I highly recommend John Green

  • Angela E. Andrewes

    You know, I do agree on the censorship issue. I’m very serious about this. In fact, I’m in the process of putting together a Facebook campaign protesting Qld’s current bans on the sale of ‘American Psycho’ by Bret Easton Ellis. But… I really didn’t enjoy ‘Perks’. I found it to be completely overrated – and as a massive Smiths fan, I was so sorry to say it! I don’t know, perhaps it was just too much hype…

    • Michael Kitto

      While I didn’t really enjoy American Psycho as a book, I’m with you about it being banned. I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy Perks, but I guess I would never expect everyone to agree.

  • Sam_TinyLibrary

    I’ve wanted to read this for a while (mainly because I was a wallflower at school!), so I’m glad to see you enjoyed it. I’ll also keep an eye out for Looking For Alaska.

    • Michael Kitto

      I really like these realistic YA novels with social awkward protagonists

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  • Zainab Sajid

    I heard this name jus a while ago, and was interested in knowing a little about it so that I could read it soon. Thanks for this review! :) I’ll surely check this out.

    • Michael @ Literary Exploration

      I don’t read much YA but this is one book I highly recommend