The perks of being a wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

   Chris  Review by Chris

Title:  The perks of being a wallflower

Author:  Stephen Chbosky

Collection:  Teen Books

Knowing that schools and libraries sometimes receive complaints about this book due to its homosexual content, I expected that element of the story to be much more prominent than it actually is.  This is not a book about being gay.  The protagonist and narrator, Charlie, gets a new friend a little way into the book, and this friend is gay; however, Charlie accepts this fact without question, just as he does other things that might cause many of us at least a moment’s hesitation.  Instead, Charlie questions the more mundane aspects of life, like why people go to the mall.  He just can’t figure out what the draw is.  The book is written as a series of letters to an unnamed person, who could, in fact, be the reader.  In these letters, Charlie relates his attempts to come to terms with his friend’s suicide and his own suicidal tendencies.  He also experiments with drugs, has his first sexual encounter, and tries to learn to participate in life rather than just watch from the outside.  In tone and movement, the novel reminds me of J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye, except that Chbosky’s point and purpose is a little more obvious.  Like that classic text, Perks struck me as authentic and enthralling.  The short letters pulled me through the pages so that I finished the book in about two days.  Fast readers could certainly do it in less.  But I’m sure I’ll continue to ponder its message and think about its characters for much longer.  We may not like all of the elements of this book, but like them or not, they are out there.  Teens face them in the real world, and sometimes a well-written book like Perks can help them feel better prepared to do so.

Banned Books Week (BBW) is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment.  Held during the last week of September, Banned Books Week highlights the benefits of free and open access to information while drawing attention to the harms of censorship by spotlighting actual or attempted bannings of books across the United States.

Intellectual freedom—the freedom to access information and express ideas, even if the information and ideas might be considered unorthodox or unpopular—provides the foundation for Banned Books Week.  BBW stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints for all who wish to read and access them.

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