Monday, July 9, 2012

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

After learning that The Perks of Being a Wallflower has been made into a movie starring Emma Watson, I decided to finally read this book, which I've always skipped over because the cover doesn't appeal to me.

I was torn while reading it because I love epistolary novels and found Wallflower to be full of interesting quotes, yet I didn't think the writing was amazing and I found the main character, Charlie, to be bizarre. I understand that the point of the novel is his alienation and passive approach to life, but I also found his simplicity and innocence to be worrying. Author Stephen Chbosky doesn't say that Charlie is autistic, but I think that he has to be somewhere on the spectrum. Unfortunately, Charlie never feels real to me, or like a character with whom I can connect.

Still, there are those beautiful quotes, like, "Maybe these are my glory days, and I'm not even realizing it because they don't involve a ball." I could also really relate to Charlie thinking about his teachers, "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 on top of that." I'm a good listener, so I know much of the drama surrounding my students, and I realize that my vocabulary lists won't be remembered in a few years. That's why I like focusing on the big ideas, which leave more of a residue. (Not that I'm recommending this book for middle school is way too mature for them.)

I'll see the movie, because of Emma Watson and because I am curious about how they will take the topics of the novel (lots of drug use, plus various forms of consensual and non-consensual sex) and edit them to receive a PG-13 rating. Still, I won't be re-reading the novel, nor recommending it to other fans of YA literature.


  1. I had a really hard time with this book too. I read it 10 years ago or so and then my Grade 10 cousin read it this summer for summer reading. So I re-read it so we could chat about it. I just felt that in reality there are consequences and implications for drug use, sexual activity, etc. and very few of the characters actually experience those. My cousin is so so naive but reads at an incredibly high level. I just so desperately want to keep her innocent even if it's an unrealistic dream. I know that so many of my students will go to see the movie and I'll probably have more requests for the book to be put into the library collection. I just can't justify it. Thanks for almost giving me permission to not be okay with the book either. :)

  2. Well said.
    This is a book that they can discover and love on their own!


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