Dear Friend, Love Always

Stephen Chbosky. The Perks of Being a Wallflower. New York: MTV Books/Pocket Books, 1999.


external image perksofbeing2.jpg"Dear Friend,
I'm writing you because she said you listen and understand and didn't try to sleep with that person at the party even though you could have."

The most striking thing about The Perks of Being a Wallflower is the way author Stephen Chobsky is able to get inside the head of a turn-of-the-century Freshman boy. We are offered a vulnerable peek into the life of Charlie's first year of high school; perhaps it is the view of someone we can remember from high school but never took the time to get to know; perhaps it is our own perspective. No matter what, be sure that Chobsky's words will resonate with you; at Wallflower's best, it is a modern Catcher in the Rye, this generation's epistolary on teenagedom. And Chbosky hits the mark.

We are quickly involved in the book thanks to the familiar form of letters. Through the letters Charlie is able to share more than he would have to someone face to face. Chbosky used that to his advantage and told Charlie's secrets. Even the ones he never told anyone, like when his sister got an abortion. Charlie used aliases for him and everyone he knew, which led us into other peoples lives without ever knowing them. Instead we got to see them the way Charlie did, and he would sit back to watch everyone.

Chbosky takes a truly unique look into the realm of all that is high school by touching on things ranging from homosexuality, to drugs, to sex, to being teacher's pet. These issues are faced in a very matter-of-fact manor by just telling about them happening and not really commenting on the morality of the situations. Teens are faced with tough decisions every day and Wallflower really hits home on most of these topics, making this book one to talk about.

Recommendations for Teachers
While the book has been a perennial nominee for the banned book list, it is still a powerful and teachable book. The book so aptly touches on the subjects so central to any high schooler's life that it is almost impossible to ignore. It touches on some difficult issues that most people feel uncomfortable to talk about. Such as, relationships, smoking, sex, pregnancy, molestation and more. By leaving this book out of the classroom, an opportunity is wasted. The classroom is a safe place for students to talk about different subjects, by using this book it could spark some amazing discussions in the classroom. If teachers are hoping to get their students excited about literature in general, this book's accessibility is a good starting point. Charlie is open and honest which makes the reader want to read more, also it's a book about a reader. Charlie's love of literature could rub off on the reader. In teaching this book, however, there must be caution taken to ensure students can handle the content.


Stephen Chbosky
external image stephenchbosky.jpgHe was born on January 25, 1970 and raised in Upper St Clair, Pennsylvania. His love of literature showed through Charlie such as works by F. Scott Fitzgerald and J.D. Salinger. In 1992, Chbosky graduated from the University of Southern California's screenwriting program and has written many screenplays, one of which being the film version of "Rent." He is best known for his novel "The Perks of Being a Wall Flower" published by MTV Books in 1999. (Information received from Stephen Chbosky's page on Wikipedia).

Multimedia (Video or Audio)
Different authors talk on Banned and Challenged books, one of which being Stephen Chbosky.

A playlist of the songs mentioned in Perks of Being a Wallflower:

Additional Resources:
--Eric Kehoe, Melanie Vandenberg, Kendra Woody (Book Review: Doing It, Book Review: The Boy in the Striped Pajamas).