Monday, October 15, 2012

Book Review: The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Title: The Perks of Being A Wallflower
Author: Stephen Chbosky
Recorded Books
Release Date:
Feb 1, 1999

Cover Impressions: Meh.  Not a fan.  The color is awful and clashes grossly with the "Recorded Books" bands.  I am not a fan of the all small letter title and author name, nor of the odd picture in the corner.  It all feels a little hipster to me and I'm not sure that I am cool enough for it.

The Gist:
Charlie is starting his first year of High School.  Feeling more than a little scared, he begins writing letters to a mysterious reader and chronicles the life of he and his newfound friends.  His letters are filled with astute observations and a frank openness that allows a rare glimpse into the mind of a sensitive, damaged, and troubled young man who is struggling to find himself. 


The Perks of Being a Wallflower was one of those books that I think I enjoyed more as an audio book than I would have as a physical book.  The narrative is told through the letters that Charlie writes to a mysterious reader.  This format would appear to be rather limiting but it actually works quite well in allowing an in-depth glimpse into the mind of a very intelligent, but damaged young man. 

Charlie does not view the world the way that an average 16 year old would.  He feels things and notices things that others would simply pass by.  He is also maddeningly selfless, to the point where he allows others to hurt him, rather than speak out against their actions.  Below the surface, however, lies a font of anger and the possibility of violence.  Charlie is the type of character that you want to hug.  Entering is world makes me wonder about my own students and what issues they might be dealing with that we can never see. 

The other characters were so fascinating and compelling that I am a little disappointed in never being able to see their side of the story.  I would actually be very happy if Chbosky were to write two companion novels chronicling that one year of high school but from Sam and Patrick's points of view.  The reason I chose to finally read this book, was because of the trailer and the casting of Emma Watson as Sam.  Having finished the book, I can now say that I am very much looking forward to seeing the movie and I hope they do these wonderful characters justice.

I would like to note that this is not a book that I would place in my junior high classroom.  There are many instances of drug use, sex and violence that would make me recommend it for an older audience. 

Teaching/Parental Notes:

16 and up (AT LEAST!)
Gender:  Both
Sex:  Masturbation, Rape, Molestation, Heterosexual Sex, Homosexual Sex
Violence:  Fighting, Rape, Suicide
Inappropriate Language: Fuck, Queer, Faggot, Pussy
Substance Use/Abuse: Marijuana use, Smoking, Underage Drinking, Use of LSD


Alisa Selene said...

It sounds like one of those challenging but worth it reads..

Liesel K. Hill said...

I haven't read this one yet, but everyone seems to love it so I really need to some time. Thanks for the review! :D

Post a Comment