The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Author: Stephen Chbosky
Genre: YA, LGBTQ
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Challenges: GLBT, YA
FTC Disclosure: I borrowed this book from my school library
Summary (from the back of the book): This is the story of what it's like to grow up in high school. More intimate than a diary, Charlie's letters are singular and unique, hilarious and devastating. We may not know where he lives. We may not know to whom he is writing. All we know is the world he shares. Caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it puts him on a strange course through uncharted territory. The world of first dates and mixed tapes, family dramas and new friends. The world of sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, when all one requires is that perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite.
Review: I have heard so much about this book, especially since it is always on the Banned Books List. I'm always up for a banned book reading! Don't people who try to censor or ban understand that the act of banning makes something more interesting, intriguing, and sought-after? Anyway...
I really enjoyed the letter format of this book as the letters truly reveal Charlie's experiences, thoughts, and feelings. At first I really wanted to know to whom he was writing, but about half way through realized it didn't matter. Charlie pours out his everything into these letters, giving the reader great insight into his freshman year in high school. And what a year it was: experimenting with drugs and drinking (though not thinking of it as experimenting), starting to like girls and go on dates, learning to love reading and writing and having a teacher who really cares.
From page one I was swept up in Charlie's life and wanted things to go well for him. It isn't that Charlie is the biggest nerd over or that he is hugely socially awkward (ok, maybe he is), it's that he is just beginning to navigate all the ins and outs of socializing. Meeting up with an accepting and tolerant group of seniors is just what he needed to feel accepted and okay with himself. He doesn't totally get there, but by the end of the book he is certainly on his way.
I thought the situations and friendships as well as the difficulties the characters experienced were really true-to-life and handled well by the author. I found myself rooting for Charlie, that he would figure out that he is a good guy and really can get through it all without too many stumbles along the way.