Banned Book Review: ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’

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Banned Book Review: ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’

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By Anna Chuo, Morale Officer

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The greatest books are thought-provoking, and sometimes that scares people, leading to a censored and uneducated understanding of the world. Many books at one point or another have been banned in different areas at different times. One book, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky, has been challenged many times by worried parents who deem the book inappropriate.

Books have an amazing influence on our thoughts and actions, so it’s important for kids to choose books that can help expand their horizons, but not darken their outlook. There’s a very fine line between the two, and it’s different depending on the person, or more specifically, parents.

For the past few years, The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, has been banned in libraries and schools for this exact reason: it is one of the books that walks the line between appropriate and inappropriate.

is a story published in the late 90’s about a boy, Charlie, and his freshman year in high school. Even in the first chapter, you can tell Charlie is socially awkward.

The reason for banning Perks is due to its elements of drugs, alcohol, depression, homosexuality, sexually active teens, bullying, rape, and abortion. Many students around the main character smoke cigarettes and drink alcohol, and that leads to the character chain smoking. A few of the characters also suffer from depression and express suicidal thoughts and sometimes actions. A football player faces the challenges of being gay in the late ’90’s — when the story is set — and a young woman faces the moral questions with abortion. There are also references to masturbation and teenage sex with and without protection.

That being said, the topics discussed are presented in an accessible manner to help the reader learn about the controversial topics that can be difficult to bring up in an everyday conversation. Another thing Chbosky did well is properly weave the sensitive problems in a way that was entertaining, yet not horribly cheesy. The story takes difficult topics that can take up an entire central conflict and instead  turns each of them into miniature plots within the book without lessening the topic’s impact.

The point of view also offers a very interesting take on the sensitive subjects. The main character is telling this story through a series of letters supposedly written to the reader, as it’s never specified who exactly he’s writing to; it’s almost as if he’s writing to a stranger. The author’s sentence structure throughout the book is mostly simple sentences, making the writing choppy. However, I think it was brilliant on Chbosky’s part because it furthers adds to Charlie’s awkwardness that already seems prevalent throughout the story.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is, like any good story, a roller coaster. You’ll feel elated with the characters, scream at some of them, cry for their sorrows, and knit your eyebrows together in thought to discover for yourself what a well-lived life really is.