Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

I finished the first book of my banned book list. The perks of being a wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. On the back it is described as a coming of age tale but it is not so much of coming of age as coming to terms. The book was published in February, 1999 and takes place in Pittsburgh during the 1991-1992  school year. The book is written as a series of letters written by a 15 year old at the start through to 16."Charlie" as he calls himself is writing letters to someone that does not know him and he does not use his real name. Through these letters he tells this person all about what has and is happening to him in his life.

"Charlie" is a shy, messed up kid. At the beginning his only friend has killed himself. He feels lonely and sad. Until he meets Sam and Patrick. They are both seniors and "Charlie" is a freshman. They become friends and Charlie sort of slides into their group of friends. This is where he starts experimenting with drugs, alcohol and Rocky Horror Picture show.  Throughout the book "Charlie" talks about all the books he reads, movies he watches and music he hears. He reads The Cather in the Rye, Hamlet, The Fountainhead just to name a few. It was kind of like seeing a high school English class reading list.

According to Illinois Library Association it was removed from Portage, Ind. High School (2008) classroom for topics such as homosexuality, drug use, and sexual behavior. Challenged at the West Bend,
Wis. Community Memorial Library (2009) as being“obscene or child pornography” in a section
designated “Young Adults.” Challenged on Wyoming, Ohio high school district’s
suggested reading list (2009). The book contains frank and sometimes explicit descriptions of sex, drugs, suicide, and masturbation. Restricted at the William Byrd and Hidden Valley high schools
in Roanoke, Va. (2009) to juniors and seniors. Freshmen and sophomores, however, will need
parental permission to check out the book.

In 2007 it was challenged in Northwest Suburban HS District 214 Arlington Heights (IL). A newly elected school board member challenged the book based on excerpts from the book she'd found on the Internet. She challenged it based on references to masturbation, homosexuality, and bestiality.

This book had a major amount of teen issues really life issues crammed into one book. "Charlie" wrote about drugs, sex, music, molestation, cheaters, spouse abuse, child abuse. It was like the author sat down and thought of everything bad that could happen to a teenager and made it happen to "Charlie." As far as it being challenged I think this is a case of the people did not really read the book. The lady that stated it had bestiality clearly read paragraphs and taken out of context they could be seen as bad. The two sentences that talk about bestiality are when Patrick and "Charlie" are telling tall tales they have heard about kids at their high school. We have all sat around and told  tales and most of the ones in the book I remember there was rumors of it happening at my school too.

Patrick is gay in this book and "Charlie" and him are friends and to "Charlie" his friends issues are his. He states in a  matter of fact way wishes the world was a happy excepting place for Patrick and not so hard for him. It is not the major theme in the book. "Charlie" took it to heart when one of his friends was in trouble.

"Charlie" is in love with Sam who is Patrick's stepsister. He does not really understand love nor does he know how to express things in an appropriate way. "Charlie" has been under the care of a shrink on and off since his Aunt died. They would find him weird places or doing weird things. He said he just wanted to understand what was wrong with him.  He starts to have sex with Sam and sort of snaps and ends up catatonic and in the end it is revealed why he is screwed up and ends up in the hospital for awhile. As his friends and sister get ready to go to college "Charlie" starts to get it together and understand himself.

I liked this book, I would not say I loved it. But was good. I love letter fiction. It was rambling and almost incoherent sometimes but I think that was awesome because that is how 15 year old tripping on acid would sound. I can understand "Charlie" even if he did not really understand himself he started figuring himself out as well all had to do at the age. It was a solid book, heartbreaking in parts, funny in parts, silly and a bit over the top but it was good read for the teen and up crowd.

I give it 3.5 out of 5.

Up Next - The Earth, My Butt and Other Big Round Things By Carolyn Mackler

1 comment:

  1. Both this book and your next in line book have been on my to read list for a very long time. I'm hoping to get to them both this month!