It’s Banned Books Week so I’m highlighting a different banned book each day this week. My posts will include the banned book, where/why it’s been banned (or challenged), my opinion, and a student’s opinion. I’m also hosting a banned books giveaway, so I hope you’ll check it out and enter to win a banned book of your choice.
Where/Why It’s Been Banned: “Challenged, but retained, at the Clarkstown, N.Y. North High School (2011) despite a parent’s complaint about the teen coming-of-age novel, which deals graphically with teenage sex, homosexuality, and bestiality.”(Source–Quote taken from ALA banned books resource page)
My Thoughts: The Perks of Being a Wallflower has been around for a while now (since 1999), and even though it’s still considered current, I feel comfortable saying it’s a classic example of YA literature. I read it a couple years ago after a student told me that it’s the one book she’ll read over and over again. I really enjoyed it, especially because it’s an epistolary novel.
The story is about Charlie who is trying to understand his life and get over the loss of a good friend and his aunt. His life hasn’t been perfect; something awful has happened to Charlie which is foreshadowed throughout the novel. Charlie’s going through life and trying to deal with everything that’s going on. He’s a character readers relate to and understand, which is one of the reasons this book is so popular with my students. Not only do readers connect with Charlie, they empathize with him and are shocked at the truth which is revealed at the end of the novel.
I have two copies of this book in my classroom because I see it as a staple to YA literature. I’m glad that it was retained at N.Y. North High School because the reasons for its challenge are extreme. I know it’s been a while since I’ve read it, but I know I’d remember if there was bestiality in the novel because that’s something that would concern me. I’ve actually had three students interested in reading The Perks of Being a Wallflower, so I had to send one of them to our high school library to borrow a copy. He’s the student I asked to respond to information about the challenge.
Student Response: Michael, one of my freshmen, just finished reading The Perks of Being a Wallflower. “I disagree with what they are saying about the book because it’s about a kid becoming a teenager in high school who doesn’t have any friends because everyone thinks he’s weird and his only friend died. It tells us what could happen in high school and what we could face. I think it’s a very good book. It keeps a person wondering what’s going to happen next, and then you realize things you didn’t expect.”