The Perks Of Being A Wallflower

Posted by Charlie O'Shea | Posted in Charlie O'Shea, Other Finds | Posted on 08-05-2009

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perks2The Perks Of Being A Wallflower is a cult coming of age book written by Stephen Chbosky published in 1999. It’s definitely among my favourite books of all time and I wish I’d discovered it earlier in my life. It’s the story of a 15/16 year old boy during his first year of high school. 

The Perks Of Being A Wallflower is written in an interesting format in that it is made up of a series of letters written by an anonymous boy to an anonymous reader. The book opens with this…

 

August 25, 1991

Dear friend,

     I am writing to you because she said you listen and understand and didn’t try to sleep with that person at that party even though you could have. Please don’t try to figure out who she is because then you might figure out how I am, and I really don’t want you to do that. I will call people by different names or generic names because I don’t want you to find me. I didn’t enclose a return address for the same reason. I mean nothing bad by this. Honest.

     I just need to know that someone out there listens and understands and doesn’t try to sleep with people even if they could have. I need to know that these people exist.


Throughout the book, the author deals with a range of important issues to teenagers like drugs, homosexuality, sex and abortion in a balanced manner. It’s very valuable advice and neither promotes nor discourages these decisions. The book provides information and viewpoints instead and in my opinion, this is far more beneficial. Unfortunately, because of this, it ranked #6 on America’s most challenged books list. That’s fundamentalists for you.

The Perks Of Being A Wallflower is one of the most interesting books I’ve ever read and I think it would appeal to anyone. Something I’ve noticed is that many people associate it with The Catcher In The Rye by J.D Salinger and I suppose they are similar ‘coming of age’ style books, only from different generations. 


One more thing I’d like to include from this book is a poem that the main character reads:

Once on a yellow piece of paper with green lines
    he wrote a poem
And he called it “Chops”
    because that was the name of his dog
And that’s what it was all about
And his teacher gave him an A
    and a gold star
And his mother hung it on the kitchen door
    and read it to his aunts
That was the year Father Tracy
    took all the kids to the zoo
And he let them sing on the bus
And his little sister was born
    with tiny toenails and no hair
And his mother and father kissed a lot
And the girl around the corner sent him a
    Valentine signed with a row of X’s
    and he had to ask his father what the X’s meant
And his father always tucked him in bed at night
And was always there to do it

Once on a piece of white paper with blue lines
    he wrote a poem
And he called it “Autumn”
    because that was the name of the season
And that’s what it was all about
And his teacher gave him an A
    and asked him to write more clearly
And his mother never hung it on the kitchen door
    because of its new paint
And the kids told him
    that Father Tracy smoked cigars
And left butts on the pews
And sometimes they would burn holes
That was the year his sister got glasses
    with thick lenses and black frames
And the girl around the corner laughed
    when he asked her to go see Santa Claus
And the kids told him why
    his mother and father kissed a lot
And his father never tucked him in bed at night
And his father got mad
    when he cried for him to do it.

Once of a paper torn from his notebook
    he wrote a poem
And he called it “Innocence: A Question”
    because that was the question about his girl
And that’s what it was all about
And his professor gave him an A
    and a strange steady look
And his mother never hung it on the kitchen door
    because he never showed her
That was the year that Father Tracy died
And he forgot how the end
    of the Apostle’s Creed went
And he caught his sister
    making out on the back porch
And his mother and father never kissed
    or even talked
And the girl around the corner
    wore too much makeup
That made him cough when he kissed her
    but he kissed her anyway
    because that was the thing to do
And at three A.M he tucked himself into bed
    his father snoring soundly

That’s why on the back of a brown paper bag
    he tried another poem
And he called it “Absolutely Nothing”
Because that’s what it was really all about
And he gave himself an A
and a slash on each damned wrist
And he hung it on the bathroom door
    because this time he didn’t think
    he could reach the kitchen.

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