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Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky.
Recently, I was in Target, looking at some books while my mom shopped. While trying find a book that I hadn’t read but wanted to read, I stumbled upon Perks of being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. I’d seen the trailer for the movie adaption of the book and decide to give the book a try.
The story is about a high school freshmen name Charlie. Charlie is grieving over the suicide of his only good friend Michael, and upset about his sister’s abusive boyfriend. In addition, Charlie has never gotten over the death of the only relative he was every close to, Aunt Helen, who die in a car crash on his seventh birthday. He very shy and often describe a Wallflower. (The term, Wallflower, come from olden days, when during a ball, shy people who did not wish to dance or couldn’t find a partner stood up against the wall, avoiding the other attendees)
However, Charlie becomes friends with two seniors at his high school Sam and her stepbrother Patrick. With help of Sam and Patrick and his English Teacher Bill, he began to break out shell, becoming a more mature and self-aware person. The whole novel is written epistolary style, so book is made up of letters by Charlie to an unknown correspondent.
While the book has deep points and emotional scenes it, in my opinion, has flaws.
The book is described as something with “simple sentence structure”, which, to me, basically means it has short, choppy sentences. While this is liked by some, to me it demeans the depth of the work. It also make the book somewhat painful to read if really into to grammar or enjoy books with a lot of detail and very lively voice. At the same time, it make the book lend to the demographic a lot of teens fall into- reluctant readers who don’t like books with incredible long sentences and complex vocabulary. This also make the novel a short 224 page (the type is large so it smaller then it sounds).
However, sometime it seem like Charlie and his friend have moments, that are sort of opposite of brain farts (instead totally be unable to think for second, they all of suddenly their IQ, maturity, and wisdom increase 10 times). This causes great quotes to come from this book such as “We accept the love we think we deserve” and “Maybe it's good to put things in perspective. Sometimes, I think that the only perspective is to really be there” which really make up for simply writing and speak volumes of wisdom to a teenage audience.
Perks of a Being Wallflower did have very realistic characters. The characters seem to have very real dilemmas and feelings. The come from dysfunctional families and trouble backgrounds. They have annoying old relative and teenager angst. They deal with problem of today’s youth such as bullying and suicide. However at the same time they are cliché. You got your stereotypical loner, your stereotypical English teacher that believes in you, a stereotypical in the closet gay quarterback etc.. But in real life, the reason why stereotypes or so powerful and common is because they usually hold some element of truth and many can relate to them.
Now, let get to the nitty gritty part of story- the sex and drugs in book. The book has been on the top ten list of the most challenge/banned 6 time in since 2001, according to the ALA (American Library Association) banned books week group. It is constantly sited for the following things: homosexuality, offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuitability to age group. While the homosexuality and cursing did not offend me, I found that sexual content and drug and alcohol use in this book was extreme. I book has many sexual content and drug users that could easily offend people, especially adults. Charlie takes LSD at party and hallucinates, as well as talk about time when he see a girl get sexually assault at a party hosted by his older brother and sister when he is was younger. At one point, he also drives his sister to an abortion clinic. Charlie and friends smoke marijuana so much that one person in book receives a handcrafter Native American pipe for a secret Santa present. The list goes on and on.
I hate the sexual content in the book. The reason that I hate it is because I felt that much of it is unrelated to the plot line and simply added to book to make it appeal to a teenage audience. The character often time participate in this negative to behavior without consequences. Beside Charlie’s sister getting an abortion, character surfer very little because of drugs the take and sexual experience they take part in. This bothers me. I feel like it appropriate to have people to get “wasted” and “laid” that frequently in YA novel unless the stuff add to plot, character must deal with some of the consequences, and the book provide some moral guide lines. The reason the book so controversial not because has sexual content, in fact, most Young Adult novels. Many famous book that are widely used as teacher material by educators Catcher of the Rye, Go ask Alice, and as well as classic book like Nineteen Eighty Four, Clockwork Orange, and Kill a Mockingbird do. It is controversial because it deals with sex and drug very casual way. Never does a character seem to regret or question drugs or sex, or in general, talk about morals surround the topics. Plus, if take away the stuff, the novel still, has, to a certain extent, a viable plot.
In essence, I think Perks of Being a Wallflower controversial book. Some people with love it and some with hate it, but all can agree that the book is unforgettable. Many can relate to the book and it has volumes of teenage wisdom. It feels like it is a book not meant to just be read, but questioned. It is direct, it not afraid of asking tough questions and deal with sensitive subjects. Perks of Being a Wallflower wasn’t really for me, has and will capture the mind teenagers for years to come.