Thursday, September 30, 2010

Banned Book Week - The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Next on my Banned Books Week list is Stephen Chbosky's The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

This book was listed on the American Library Association's top 10 most frequently challenged books of 2006 (and other years) and has been challenged for several reasons. Most notably are for homosexuality, sexually explicit content, and for inappropriate content for age group.

So yeah, I can see where parents might see the 4th grade reading level as inappropriate and slightly too mature for their eight year olds, but that doesn't mean teachers are using it in the classroom.

As for the complaints of homosexuality, was this really part of the reason it was challenged? In 2006?! I really thought our country had come farther than that. I honestly just don't know what to say about this. Growing up, I was taught not to judge others and if they weren't hurting anyone, it shouldn't matter how people live their own lives. Call me naive or say I lived in some little bubble, but I thought homosexuality wasn't as big an issue in 2006 as it was in previous years. Maybe I thought this because I've been around people that had this lifestyle choice since I was in jr. high/high school.

Sexually explicit content seems to be a big one when banning is involved and it just doesn't seem like it should be as big of an issue. People are getting up in arms over the fact that they don't think young people have the same thoughts, feelings, and urges they did when they were younger. It's not like sexuality dies off with one generation. To think that teens don't curse, masturbate, or force themselves on others (yes, we live in a world where this unfortunately does happen), is lacking logic.

I remember when I first read The Perks of Being a Wallflower. I was at work one day and one of my co-workers gave me her extra copy because she was really loving this book. I read it and I must admit, I wasn't expecting some of the stuff that was in there. When I was growing up, MG/YA books consisted of Sweet Valley (kids, twins, high, college, etc), The Babysitters Club, and R.L. Stine so reading something like Perks was completely different for me. It was refreshing to read something that seemed real. Things real teenagers would think, see, and do. How can you NOT like a book where they dress up and act out parts to The Rocky Horror Picture Show?

I may have only read this book once (and I'm definitely long overdue for a re-read) but The Perks of Being a Wallflower remains on my top 10 list of most memorable books read.

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