Information: The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chobsky was published in 1999 by Pocket Books. ISBN: 0671027344
Plot Summary: Charlie was an awkward high school freshman. He is known as a geek, complete introvert, and basically a wallflower. The novel contains a series of letters, written by Charlie to an unknown friend, detailing Charlie’s high school experiences. Throughout the letters, Charlie explains first hand about his attempts to make new friends, first dates, and his introduction into a new life of wild experiences he never expected. While approaching these new adventures, Charlie also has to come to terms with family differences, anxiety, and past traumas. But with all these new events in his life, Charlie must choose if he wants to put himself out there or remain a wallflower. With the help of his new friends, Charlie hopes to achieve just one peaceful experience, with the perfect song on the perfect drive.
Critical Evaluation: The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a deeply personal look inside the mind of being a geeky introvert while in high school. Chobsky uses the letters written by Charlie to get a completely unobstructed view of what it means to be a freshman, trying to make new friends, while also dealing with anxiety, family differences, and past traumas. Because the letters were written by Charlie, all the reader has is how Charlie views his high school experiences, creating an intimate portrait of how people like Charlie survive their first year of high school.
Reader’s Annotation: Charlie is a high school freshman, who writes down his experiences with new friends and his struggles with family in letters to a mysterious friends. Through these letters Charlie must choose if he wants to continue to move forward in his new life or be a wallflower forever.
Author’s Information: Stephen Chbosky wrote and directed the feature film adaptation of his award-winning novel, The Perks of Being a Wallflower. He has worked in film and television, on projects including the film version of the smash-hit musical Rent; the TV show Jericho; and others. He also edited Pieces, a collection of short stories for Pocket Books. A native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Chbosky graduated from the University of Southern California’s Filmic Writing Program. His first film, The Four Corners of Nowhere, premiered at Sundance Film Festival (Simon & Schuster).
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
Curriculum Ties: (Florida State Curriculum Standards): Understanding Key Literary Ideas
Book Talk Ideas:
- Charlie works out his experiences and his thoughts on them through letters to his friend. How else can someone work out their thoughts and emotions, besides letters?
- What would be your perfect song and perfect car ride?
Reading Level/ Age Interest: Grades 9-12 and Ages 14-18 (Scholastic)
Challenge Issues: Adolescent Anguish, Depictions of Homosexuality, Rape, Drug Use, Masturbation, and Suicide
Challenge Defense File:
The System will select and maintain a comprehensive collection of print, non-print, audio visual and electronically accessed materials to meet the informational, educational, and recreational needs of the citizens of Sarasota County. The System will strive to offer wide ranging collections that meet the various ages, interests, educational levels, and cultural backgrounds of all members of the community and will provide collections through which an individual may explore all points of view and issues of interest. In making selections, the library staff will do so based upon principle rather than personal opinion, reason rather than prejudice, and judgment rather than censorship. Furthermore, staff will be responsive to public demand for materials of contemporary significance and interest, while balancing this with the need to collect and preserve materials of permanent value. While library staff makes material selections based upon the tenet of one system, one collection, selectors recognize the distinct characteristics and needs of the populace that each library services. Community profiles are used to guide selectors in efforts to develop special collections and to meet the unique patron needs within each library.
The ultimate responsibility for selection materials rests with the General Manager of Libraries and the Management Team, who in turn delegates selection responsibilities to the Collection Development Librarians (Sarasota County Policy).
Chobsky, S. (1999). Perks of Being a Wallflower. New York, New York: Pocket Books. Perks of Being a Wallflower was published for high school students to examine and reflect on the emotional struggles teens can have when they feel isolated from their peers. Charlie writes his personal thoughts and reactions to his experiences through these letters and that allows the reader to share a personal connection to the character. Charlie’s letters address hard topics that many teens go through alone. Perks of Being a Wallflower is an example of how expressing one’s emotions can have a positive impact on healing and surviving high school.Other recommendations like this book include: Sloppy Firsts by Megan McCafferty, Boy Toy by Barry Lyga, and The Realm of Possibility by David Levithan.
Active Listening Skills
- Remain calm
- Listen thoughtfully and carefully to any arguments for the collection
- Engage in a discussion that considers every concern, even if you do not agree
- ALA Best Books for Young Adults (2000)
- ALA Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers (2000)
- ALA Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults (2002)
- Negative Reviews: American Booksellers Association
- Reviews by Young Adults: Common Sense Media
Why I chose this book: I chose this book because the way it was written allowed for a clear message of healing, self-discovery, and coming of age. It doesn’t sugarcoat the struggles of isolation or social anxiety, but it also doesn’t hide the pain healing can have. It’s one of the truest depictions I’ve ever read of trying to keep it together, while everything else seems to be falling apart.