Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Book Review: The Perks of Being a Wallflower

I'll start off with a slight disclaimer: There is a reason this book was (and is still) banned by many schools.

Some books just hold a special place for me, and The Perks of Being a Wallflowers by Stephen Chbosky is definitely one of them. This book is written as a series of letters from a 15 year old boy named Charlie to an unknown "Dear Friend". He is starting high school and he is scared; he heard some other kids talking about someone who he decides is a good person and worth to writing letters to about it life. He is lonely and needs a friend to talk to. In his letters he describes the goings on of his life, his friends, his problems. They are very typical teenage concerns and yet not at the same time. Charlie is not your run of the mill teenager, and the letters act as a diary that is sent out to this person he has never met.

His life is tumultuous to say the least. He talks about depression and his own mental health issues (he was hospitalized during middle school) and how he battles his issues resurfacing everyday. He talks about his new friends who are all seniors and the things they teach him. He talks about the disconnection he feels towards his classmates and the horrible things they do to each other. He talks about his sister being hit by her boyfriend, how he unknowingly witnessed a rape, his best friend trolling the local homosexual meet up spots. There is heavy drinking, drug use, teenage sex, mental illness, and sexual abuse. One consistent theme is a girl that he is in love with, which is not at all described in a sappy teenager fashion. Charlie is very mature and ends up dealing with problems that most people twice his age have never even have to think about.

Now, with all the things I've mentioned, I'm sure you are wondering why I love this book, right? I love the memories reading it brings up in my mind. Not that I had an even remotely racy adolescence - in fact completely the opposite. The books reminds me of my high school friends, who I now know went through similar issues in some cases. Charlie's friends used to perform the Rocky Horror Picture Show, as did mine - yay for drama freaks! His best friends are older than him and he is terribly saddened by the fact that he has to go through the rest of high school with out them - I completely relate to that. It's nice to be reminded of how important your music was to your identity at one time. Also, he is always feeling like he has something wrong with him, and I have never met a teenager who didn't feel that way. The book pretty much covers a laundry list of topics that right off the bat would make parents outraged and never want their children to read about, let alone relate to. The truth of the matter is that no matter how much we try to deny it, teenagers face these unfortunate situations everyday and this book teaches some great lessons. One quote that has always stuck out to me is, "We accept the love we think we deserve." What a wonderful realization for a teenager - I wish it had sunk in with me back then! Anyway, hopefully this makes sense and I'm giving a balanced representation of the good and bad. Suffice it to say, that I love this book and think that it should be given a fair and unbiased shot. In spite of the often seedy goings on, there are valuable lessons to learn and they are very much worth your time. No matter what you've been told about it, you should read The Perks of Being a Wallflower for yourself.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for joining in the conversation!