#Book Bingo 2018 is a collaboration challenge I am completing with my favourite blogger, Theresa Smith Writes. How does it work? We have devised our own personalised book bingo card game. Twice a month, on the first and third Saturday of the month, Theresa and I will complete a book review post, outlining our respective bingo card entries. The book bingo card contains a total of 25 squares, which we will complete over the course of the year. To accommodate all the squares, we will be posting additional entries in the months of March and June, this will ensure that we stay on track to complete the book bingo game by December. To keep things interesting for ourselves and those following along with us, the choice of bingo square to be covered will be entirely down to us. We invite you to join us in this fun book related challenge, by linking your bingo card entries in the comments section of this post or by visiting Theresa Smith Writes.
Charlie is a freshman. And while he’s not the biggest geek in the school, he is by no means popular. Shy, introspective, intelligent beyond his years yet socially awkward, he is a wallflower, caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it. Charlie is attempting to navigate his way through uncharted territory: the world of first dates and mix-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. But Charlie can’t stay on the sideline forever. Standing on the fringes of life offers a unique perspective. But there comes a time to see what it looks like from the dance floor.
Wallflower: A wallflower is someone with an introverted personality type who will attend parties and social gatherings, but will usually distance themselves from the crowd and actively avoid being in the limelight.
There is probably a time in your life that you have felt like a wallflower, a person on the outside looking in, or a figure on the fringes of society, never fully participating. There was a time in my own life, when I was around the same age as Charlie, the lead in The Perks of Being a Wallflower, where I was a complete outsider looking into a friendship group I was never made to feel a part of. Recently moved from another country, without friends and slightly immature than the group of individuals that were charged with the responsibility of helping me settle into my high school, was daunting. High school is one of the scariest experiences of your life, you can either sink or swim. Stephen Chbosky’s book helps the reader, young or old, connect with this rite of passage, with Charlie, a rather passive lead.
I chose The Perks of Being a Wallflower as it seemed to slot in nicely to my selection of book bingo 2018, this round I need to cover a square titled, a book that became a movie. Stephen Chbosky’s 1999 release was made into a major motion picture in 2012, starring Emma Watson and Ezra Miller. Chbosky was involved heavily in the making of the film based on his novel, turning his hand to directing, screenwriting and producing the film. Although I am yet to watch the film version of the book, I am going to seek it out very soon based on my appreciation of The Perks of Being a Wallflower.
There is no doubt that The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a cult classic, paving the way for more recent young adult books that taken inspiration from this title. I believe The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a great place to start if you want to investigate the origins of the young adult genre. The Perks of Being a Wallflower takes an unusual format, the book is told in the entire narrative voice of Charlie, a high school freshman (aged 15) in Pittsburgh in the US, who divulges his year at school in the form of letters. The letters are addressed to an unknown recipient and begins with ‘Dear friend’. We never find out the identity of who the letters are intended for. I took it as an intimate relationship between myself and Charlie. As a result, I received an insight into the mind of this teenager, his thoughts, fears, loves and experiences. The tone of the letters or narrative voice of Charlie is straightforward and introspective.
The main feature of the book that seemed to work for me was the supporting characters. Namely the seniors that befriend Charlie, Sam and Patrick, along with the English Teacher. I could connect to the English teacher relationship, I too had a great English teacher in high school who inspired my love of reading. I loved the literary references peppered throughout the novel, from To Kill a Mockingbird, On the Road, to Catcher in the Rye. I also appreciated to nostalgia that came from the era in which The Perks of Being a Wallflower is set, the 1990’s. Consequently, we are treated to times past, a world of mix tapes and Nirvana. Chbosky made me miss this time in my life!
It was interesting to note that while I was researching the details on this book and film, I came across a surprising fact. The Perks of Being a Wallflower was once banned, removed from the school curriculum in the US for ‘encouragement to lead a destructive lifestyle’. The book does contain moments of light and semblance, but it is issue based. Readers will find serious issues are touched on, perhaps a few too many to examine in great depth. In Charlie’s life he comes across situations of teen suicide (the opener), domestic abuse, sexual abuse, teen pregnancy, homosexuality, mental illness, alcohol and drug abuse. Teens and older readers will be able to connect with these themes, despite the absence of more recent issues such as social media and cyber bullying. It is important that books of the young adult genre put these experiences forward, rather than bury them under the carpet.
I tend to have an awkward relationship with the young adult genre, especially more recent books. It seems the older I get the bigger the gap and the distance I feel between my ability to connect with the themes presented in the particular book. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, perhaps due to the time period in which it is set, a time where I too experienced my own ‘coming of age’, allowed me to find some connection to this book. I did find that there could have been more depth to the themes and characters. However, the format of this book seems to lend to a less intensive examination of the issues and protagonists. The Perks of Being a Wallflower seems to be a permanent fixture on top 100 book charts since it was been released, which has led it to be classified as a cult classic. The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a good starting point if you want to look at the inception of the popular young adult genre. For readers aged 14+
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky was published on February 1st 1999. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.
To learn more about the author of The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Stephen Chbosky, visit here.