Publisher (this edition): Pocket Books
Release date (this edition): February 2, 2009
Reasons given for banning: anti-family, drugs, homosexuality, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit, suicide, unsuited to age group
Buy Links: Amazon The Book Depository
Book Blurb (from goodreads):
What is most notable about this funny, touching, memorable first novel from Stephen Chbosky is the resounding accuracy with which the author captures the voice of a boy teetering on the brink of adulthood. Charlie is a freshman. And while he's not the biggest geek in the school, he is by no means popular. He's a wallflower--shy and introspective, and intelligent beyond his years, if not very savvy in the social arts. We learn about Charlie through the letters he writes to someone of undisclosed name, age and gender; a stylistic technique that adds to the heart-wrenching earnestness saturating this teen's story. Charlie encounters the same struggles many face in high school--how to make friends, the intensity of a crush, family tensions, a first relationship, exploring sexuality, experimenting with drugs--but he must also deal with the devastating fact of his best friend's recent suicide. Charlie's letters take on the intimate feel of a journal as he shares his day-to-day thoughts and feelings:
With the help of a teacher who recognises his wisdom and intuition, and his two friends, seniors Samantha and Patrick, Charlie mostly manages to avoid the depression he feels creeping up like ivy. When it all becomes too much, after a shocking realisation about his beloved late Aunt Helen, Charlie checks out for awhile. But he makes it back to reality in due time, ready to face his sophomore year and all that it may bring. Charlie, sincerely searching for that feeling of "being infinite" is a kindred spirit to the generation that's been slapped with the label X.
"I walk around the school hallways and look at the people. I look at the teachers and wonder why they're here. If they like their jobs. Or us. And I wonder how smart they were when they were fifteen. Not in a mean way. In a curious way. It's like looking at all the students and wondering who's had their heart broken that day, and how they are able to cope with having three quizzes and a book report due on top of that. Or wondering who did the heart breaking. And wondering why."
Our Guest Reviewer:
Every day is Halloween for paranormal romance author Angela Addams. Enthralled by the paranormal at an early age, Angela spends most of her time thinking up new story ideas that involve supernatural creatures in everyday situations. She believes that the written word is an amazing tool for crafting the most erotic of scenarios.
She lives in Ontario, Canada with her loving husband and children.
When I approached Angela about participating this week, she immediately jumped on the idea of reviewing a banned book and chose this one. I have not read this one but I've read others that dealt with the same content and like Angie, I believe that books like these allow teens a safe avenue for dealing with these matters and can be a lead in to many conversations between the reader and others in their life.
The Perks of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, is one of those books that appeals to readers of all ages. It’s the kind of book that speaks to the very real trials and tribulations that teenagers are faced with in today’s society.
The main character, Charlie, tells his story through a series of cathartic letters to an anonymous person. Although it seems like Charlie runs into an unbelievable heap of trouble: drugs, sex, a friend’s suicide and a horrible family secret, it is not an unrealistic coming of age tale. In fact, the reason why I think this novel is so wonderful is that it confronts these issues with full disclosure and doesn’t sugar coat the influences, pressures and realities that a teen in today’s world can face.
I’ve been asked to write this review because The Perks of Being a Wallflower has been flagged as inappropriate. It has been banned for containing content that is considered anti-family, is said to exploit the use of drugs and touch on issues of homosexuality and suicide. It is also criticized for the use of offensive language, expressing a religious viewpoint and containing sexually explicit content. It has been deemed to be unsuited to the age group for which it was written.
All of the above mentioned “issues” related to this novel are in fact accurate; The Perks of Being A Wallflower does indeed contain a lot of sensitive content. In fact, the entire book is brimming with the musings of a conflicted, troubled teen. But does that mean it is unsuitable for its intended audience and should be censored or worse, banned? I say, emphatically, no and here’s why:
Banning books like this one eliminates the possibility of opening up discussion with our youth on the very real issues that they are plagued with. The reason why this novel speaks to teenagers and is so widely read is because there is always an element of connection to the content. If the reader hasn’t experienced these things themselves then they have known someone who has. What better way to prepare our youth through open discussion and exploration of sensitive topics? And it’s not like these very real, issues are going to go away.
All censorship does is clean up a perceived mess by brushing it under the proverbial carpet. Unfortunately, just because you can’t see the dust and dirt, doesn’t mean the problems go away.
Buy the book, give it a read, and then pass it along to your teen – it’s time we opened the communication valve with our youth instead of assuming that everything will always be sunshine and roses.