Banned Books Week Review: The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

“Banned Books Week is the national book community’s annual celebration of the freedom to read. Hundreds of libraries and bookstores around the country draw attention to the problem of censorship by mounting displays of challenged books and hosting a variety of events. The 2012 celebration of Banned Books Week will be held from September 30 through October 6. Banned Books Week was launched in 1982 in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores and libraries. More than 11,300 books have been challenged since 1982.”

Books are often challenged  because an individual or group is offended by some or all of the material or ideas with in it. Most commonly, the books that are targeted are those available to, or aimed at a young adult and child audience in public and school libraries, as well as bookstores, by a minority group who are not content with controlling their own child’s access to the material. Instead, they insist on restricting access to the community at large citing reasons that the book contains a range of ‘offensive elements’.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower was banned from a number of high school libraries in the US by groups citing promotion of  homosexuality, drug use and sexual behavior.

Title: The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Author: Stephen Chbosky

Published: Simon & Schuster September 2012

Synopsis: Standing on the fringes of life offers a unique perspective…but there comes a time to see what it looks like from the dance floor. The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a story about what it’s like to travel that strange course through the uncharted territory of high school. The world of first dates, family dramas, and new friends. Of sex, drugs, and the Rocky Horror Picture show. Of those wild and poignant roller-coaster days known as growing up.

Status: Read from September 22 to 23, 2012 {Courtesy Simon & Schuster Australia)

My Thoughts:

It is this years release of the movie based on The Perks of Being a Wallflower that has reignited interest in the novel of the same name. First published 13 years ago, the book unfolds in an epistolary format as Charlie writes letters to an anonymous ‘friend’ sharing his experience of his first year (10th grade) of high school.

Charlie is a bright but sensitive, socially awkward teenager coming of age in the early 1990’s. The youngest child of a family that includes a  college aged football hero, a rebellious teenage girl and loving but benign parents, there are hints that Charlie’s past has been difficult, contributing to his almost childlike approach to life.
Shunned by his peer group, but encouraged by his English teacher, Bill, to participate in life Charlie takes a gamble when he strikes up a friendship with step brother and sister, Patrick and Sam, both in their final year of school. Endearingly naive, Charlie becomes a mascot of sorts for their group who are both amused and charmed by his quirks and who take it upon themselves to educate him. Charlie’s thoughts and experiences of that time are relayed in the letters to his anonymous ‘friend’.

With Charlie, Chbosky explores the issues common to teens such as peer acceptance, emerging sexuality and risk taking behaviour as they discover who they are and try to find their place in their world. The Perks of Being a Wallflower can be confronting at times as all the terrors of high school are compressed into the experiences of one small group of students who deal with suicide, bullying, rape, homophobia, drug abuse and more. Charlie’s naivete though provides a slightly different perspective on those universal struggles of adolescents as he tries to understand the unwritten code of appropriate social behaviour. Though he is prone to extreme emotional reactions, Charlie relates his experiences, and the experiences of his friends, with a sense of innocent detachment, accepting the mistakes, missteps and strangeness of his journey with remarkable equanimity.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is written for a mature teen audience who will be able to relate to the characters and their anxieties. This is a moving, funny and inspiring novel about growing up and moving on.

Available to Purchase

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21 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. laurelrainsnow
    Oct 01, 2012 @ 09:35:46

    This sounds like a good one…thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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  2. Tea Time with Marce
    Oct 01, 2012 @ 12:37:04

    I still can’t get over how many books get banned, so ridiculous. I saw this movie trailor this week, never heard of the book.

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  3. Kathy J
    Oct 01, 2012 @ 22:44:13

    I definitely want to check this one out! Very excited about all the Banned Book Week reviews! :)

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  4. Trackback: Banned Book Week Day 2 Posts And Giveaways! | Book Journey
  5. Jennifer Hartling
    Oct 01, 2012 @ 23:23:41

    I just read (and reviewed) this book for the very first time. I absolutely loved it and can’t believe it took me 13 years to get around to reading it!

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  6. Liesel Hill
    Oct 02, 2012 @ 00:25:40

    Haven’t read this one, but would like to. Thanks so much for the review! :D

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  7. Kelly B
    Oct 02, 2012 @ 00:31:07

    I am currently reading this book. I am having to read it in chunks. Some of it is a bit disturbing, but it is an good overall read.

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  8. Sheila (Book Journey)
    Oct 02, 2012 @ 01:09:52

    I need to get this movie. Is it out yet? GAH! I dont even know :) I listened to it on audio… I think my review will go up today and it was so fantastic!

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  9. thekeytothegate
    Oct 02, 2012 @ 01:32:15

    I didn’t realize that the books was published 13 years ago. It sounds like a great book. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!
    Rebecca @ The Key to the Gate

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  10. Petty Witter
    Oct 02, 2012 @ 02:22:59

    I’ve seen the film advertised but to be honest hadn’t realised it had been adapted from a book ……. and (gasps) a banned book at that. With themes such as teen sexuality it shouldn’t surprise that its be banned and yet it still amazes me that it is.

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  11. Trackback: The Perks Of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky (Banned Book Week!) | Book Journey
  12. Leslie
    Oct 02, 2012 @ 16:06:26

    I’d heard of the movie but not the book. Banned Book Week always spotlights a few books that I didn’t even know existed.

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  13. kristi
    Oct 03, 2012 @ 00:50:06

    It’s ridiculous that they say it promotes homosexuality. It doesn’t promote it so much as sheds light on how difficult it is for homosexual teens. It’s frustrating that this book is banned.

    I can’t wait to see the movie. I’ve heard such great reviews.

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  14. Rachel
    Oct 03, 2012 @ 21:32:25

    Thanks for the review! I really should read this book.

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  15. Stephanie @ Read in a Single Sitting
    Oct 04, 2012 @ 11:12:31

    Book banning and challenging is just so utterly unthinkable. Perhaps the most insidious type of censorship is when we don’t even know it’s happening–there are so many texts that we don’t even hear about because of our strict censorship laws here in Australia. No doubt many of them are appalling, but it’s up to *us* as informed adults to at least be able to make the choice about whether they are or not.

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  16. Michael @ Literary Exploration
    Oct 04, 2012 @ 12:35:18

    I loved this book, I guess I just wanted more quirky realistic YA novels like John Green’s novels and I found it in this book…..now to find more

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