I have finished my eighth book for the book challenge. I read The Perks of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. I had seen the movie of the same name last year and decided that I wanted to read the book, which has been banned by many high school libraries here in Texas. Banning books in Texas is nothing new, but I wanted to find out how ridiculous they were being this time.
The format of the book is letters written to “Dear friend,” by Charlie, a fifteen-year-old freshman in high school. Charlie, we learn, is a bright, sensitive, depressed, young man who is something of a loner, eager to please, and longing to belong somewhere. He has just experienced the suicide of his one friend from middle school, Michael, and has entered high school not really knowing anyone. He goes to a football game and meets a boy from his shop class, Patrick, and his sister, Sam, who are kind to him and ask him to join him at a the game and later at a local restaurant.
Charlie becomes good friends with Patrick and Sam, who are seniors. He develops a crush on Sam, whom he thinks is the most beautiful girl that he has ever met. Patrick, he learns, is gay, and Charlie is accepting of that. Patrick and Sam take Charlie with them everywhere–to record shops, in Sam’s truck, to parties, to the restaurant, on their smoke breaks, to The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Charlie is starting to feel like he belongs somewhere.
He is still seeing his psychiatrist who is trying to get him to remember things from his childhood. He misses his aunt Helen who was killed in a car accident going to buy Charlie a birthday present. He loves his aunt Helen and frequently visits her gravesite. Charlie is close to his family, which consists of his father, mother, an older brother who plays football for Penn State, and an older sister who is a senior. We learn about Charlie’s extended family when they come to visit and when Charlie goes with his family to visit them.
We learn about Charlie through his awkwardness about dating a senior named Mary Elizabeth, who is a friend of Patrick and Sam. She is rather domineering and is set on “exposing” Charlie to art and poetry. Charlie is too willingly to be led around by Mary Elizabeth and doesn’t know how to be honest with her and break off the relationship so it just continues and Charlie is miserable in it.
The book continues in the letter format throughout Charlie’s entire year of high school and into the summer. I won’t give away what happens during the course of the book in case you have not seen the movie or read the book. But I highly recommend the book. It is a poignant, touching story of a young man’s dealing with his own demons and the struggles of a teen to belong. It covers all the issues that teens face in high school from parents to rejection to dating to schoolwork to more sensitive topics (probably why it was banned in some Texas schools). It’s a marvelous book.