18 November, 2012

Book #1: The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Ever since I was in high school, numerous people have told me I would enjoy this book, but I never took the time to read it.  The movie recently came out and, because I wanted to see it, I decided I'd better hurry up and read the book (I used to think it's better to read a book before seeing its movie counterpart, but I've recently changed my mind on the matter).  Anyways, all this is to say, I finally decided to read Stephen Chbosky's The Perks of Being a Wallflower.
It's the account of a boy named Charlie's freshman year in high school.  He's somewhat of an outcast, but soon makes friends with a group of rebellious seniors who expose him to all sorts of new experiences.  Most of the story seems to be a pretty accurate example of what a fifteen year old might endure in high school and several parts of the book resonated with my own memories of what high school was like.  However, the main character's internal dialogue and external actions seemed a bit contradictory.  Charlie seems bright-eyed, earnest, and naive, but doesn't hesitate to partake in violence, underage drinking, and use of several different drugs including marijuana and LSD. While I'm sure there are high schoolers who involve themselves in these things, and while I acknowledge the power of peer pressure is sometimes underestimated, I don't find Charlie's combination of innocence and immorality to be founded in reality.

The book deals with several serious issues such as depression, physical and emotional abuse, death of a loved one, suicide, and sexuality.  I think it is extremely important to discuss topics such as these, especially at a time in life when people feel so vulnerable, and I applaud the author for making an effort to acknowledge these issues.  However, the book provides absolutely no suggestions of dealing with these issues in a healthy way; the characters instead turn to the aforementioned unhealthy (and often unlawful) activities.

I saw the movie a few weeks ago with my friend Lamia.  We both really enjoyed it.  I would definitely recommend the movie over the book.  The movie focuses less on Charlie's psychological issues and instead seems to be about a group of misfit kids who don't have to endure high school on their own because they have found each other.  And the film has great music (I'm a sucker for a movie with a great soundtrack).

Overall, I think I enjoyed the book, but would suggest that one should be very intentional in who they recommend it to.  It might provide the gateway to discussion of some difficult topics, but should be paired with materials and discussion addressing healthy ways to find healing.

No comments:

Post a Comment