27. The Perks of Being a Wallflower

A wallflower is a shy, unpopular person who stands or sits apart from other people at a party.  Charlie is a wallflower.  He’s the most observant, sensitive, and highly intelligent character in this book.  He recounts all the trials and tribulations of family life and being an adolescent through letters which are written to Dear friend (that’s you).  The epistolary format of the book allows the reader to be privy to the most intricate feelings of Charlie and the people he’s the closest too.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower reads smoothly and quickly but the ambiance is melancholic and heavy at times to say the least.  It made me think about the unfavorable things about being an adolescent. You name it it’s all in this book – sex, drugs, rock-n-roll, death, literature…and much more.  It’s unbelievable what teenagers can get up to or is it?

I suggest reading this little, coming of age book before venturing out to see the film adaptation which will be out in September starring Logan Lorman and Emma Watson .  Apparently Stephen Chbosky is the screenwriter and director of the film so hopefully it will retain its emotional and sorrowful air.  The Perks of Being a Wallflower was first published in 1999 by MTV Books.  It became an immediate success among teenagers and sold 700,000 copies by 2007.  Unfortunately, it has been banned in several schools in the US because of the sexual content and drug use.  For that reason, I would suggest the appropriate reading age to be 16 and above, maybe 15 if they a very mature.  It was also listed as one of the ten most challenged books by the American Library Association (promotes libraries and library eduction internationally and is a non-profit organization) in 2006 and 2008.  I don’t think banning is the right way to go about books like this.  Kids will find it and read it.  These books are a great platform for forums, discussion, and debate in schools and at home.  Parents should read what their kids read and talk about these things openly, then there wouldn’t be any need to ban anything. I give this book 4 stars because it is well written and is very well constructed although it made me a little sad.  Now I’m starting to sound like Charlie with that last sentence.  Happy reading…

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      • I’ve been okay, just quite busy and a bit tired. I’m on holiday for a couple of days now but have continued my travels on to South America where I’m currently teaching. I’ve been wanting to read some posts and write a few myself so much but haven’t gotten around to it since I’ve been here because it seems I always have something that needs to be taken care of first. Hopefully, I can be more active on WordPress soon! How are things in your part of the world?

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      • Cool! August will be here momentarily; so, you’ll be able to take it easy soon 🙂 I certainly understand, this month was very hectic for me, too. Though I won’t be off, I am supposed to have a new schedule for August which I hope will help to make things less hectic for me. I’m glad I finally made it down here. I’m in Peru now. It’s interesting because it is winter right now as opposed to summer back home. To me it is cold, especially at night, but they don’t have heaters or air conditioners which is quite similar to what I found in most homes in Korea, except for the heated floors in Korean homes (which I prefer over central heating any day). Things are very guarded too with multiple locks on homes and some businesses with many areas with gated entrances. Apparently, this is the place to come if you’re a criminal or ex-convict. My students told me that most of the crime here is committed by people coming from other countries, but it gives a bad rap for them here because tourists may not know the difference between the different peoples and think that they are natives. However, Peru has some beautiful landscapes when you get to the mountains and countryside. I’ve had a chance to hike and got up close to a couple of awesome waterfalls. I hope to do a bit more before I leave, as well as visit the jungle and other amazing places. Lol…did I mention they have some of the most amazing and unique jewelry and handcrafts. I love unique earrings, especially at a great price, and bought about 4 or 5 pair in less than an hour! I came across some made from seeds and orange peels, and they were so beautiful!

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      • Yes I’m an earring fanatic too! I have 2 necklaces I bought on the internet that are made from seeds and come from South America. Love them and their originality. Atmosphere there seems to be special. How do they react to you being black? Can’t wait for your posts. I’m very curious but have never really wanted to visit South America.

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      • Hmmm…How do they react to me being black. They do have some Afro-Peruvians here, but you really don’t see them much at least in the district that I am in. I don’t know if that is true in other districts or not. There is one guy here who works at my place of work who is Afro-Peruvian. I usually get looks, but I’m not sure if just because it’s rare to see black people which intrigues them or if it’s because they believe black skin is beautiful. I’ve actually been told how beautiful some think this color (lol…what is it called) is beautiful and how much they love it. In one instance, a taxi driver told me that he loves this color and his wife is like this…lol…but Peruvian. One lady asked if I was from Brazil. I’ve also gotten a lot of stops from older men and women (some young men, too) who say bonita senorita. The latest and most touching moment was when I was leaving my place and locking the gate, there was a little boy standing crying right across from me. I didn’t have much time because I had somewhere to go, but it was sad to see him there crying, and I wondered where was his guardian. So, I gave him a comforting glance to get his attention to get his mind off of being so sad. Immediately, when I got his attention, he just looked at me and stopped crying. I wish I had more time to spend to find out why he was crying but at least I could get his mind off of his sadness for a moment whether it was the fact that this dark-skinned (unlike anyone he’d seen) woman was looking at him or because my gaze at him was actually comforting. So, I guess, at least from my experience, I’ve gotten positive reactions as far as being black here goes. Plus, I don’t mind the looks because I realize I am different. Lol…the funny thing is that I may get more negative attention for being black if I went into certain areas where blacks are rarely seen back home in comparison to here or any of the other places I’ve traveled to.

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  1. I would like to read this book – sounds good and fairly “realistic” in teenage terms. As I’m starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel in terms of guiding two boys through adolescence (although, I’m still really vigilant) I think that talking about difficult subjects: sex, drugs, rock and roll, death, the future, religion, politics is totally necessary. Avoidance is never a solution or way to avoid problems and I actually think that in our world 15 is late to address these issues (without having read the book) I would recommend 13 or 14 or even 12 for mature kids. They see it all on tv and in the movies anyway.

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