Banned Book: The Perks of Being a Wallflower


This week is Banned Books Week, and we’re celebrating by showcasing various books which have been censored for a variety of reasons. Celebrate this week by picking up one of these books and reading.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a young adult novel that could be set in any decade starting with the eighties, given the music and clothing references.  Take away those and it could be set easily two decades earlier.  The point being that this is a typical suburban, small town tale of a kid just trying to make it through high school.  There are some differences with this kid.  He is sensitive to the point of being overly emotional, highly intelligent and thoughtful, and not your usual sophomore, but one who would be a really good friend despite the ridiculous clichés and rumors of high school.

As to the reason why it is banned in some places?  All I can think of is that Stephen Chobsky did an extraordinary job of describing high school life.  It is not painted and polished like many television shows aimed at this population.  The main character Charlie has a gay friend (didn’t we all, even if we didn’t quite realize what that meant), a sister who is popular, a crush who is a senior, a girlfriend he just kinda goes along with for a while, and a brother in college.  He tries drugs, but isn’t really a fan.  One of his teachers thinks he is brilliant and gives him extra stuff to read.  He lets his gay friend do what he needs to do and even supports him.  There is a teenage pregnancy that he helps with.  His crush is also his friend who kisses him once or twice, and of course, the local Bob’s Big Boy is a sight of many small dramas.  It could have just as easily been the Dairy Queen or the Taste Freeze.  Finally, at the end, things come to a head as they can only do in a small town, and we discover that Charlie was molested as a child.

Charlie calls himself a wallflower because he quietly observes his surroundings and engages when it is safe.  This was most of us in high school, and the story isn’t that far off of most of us.  But why is it banned?  I don’t get it really, unless it is the references to homosexuality or molestation.  And those are common in high school, not to mention life.  Chobsky never gets graphic with anything.  He just reports things in a letter to an anonymous “friend.”

It is all very real, and we all dealt with at least one or two of these things, usually many of them. High school and college are times when these things are real and alive developmentally.  It is normal on a human development level, and the explorations of both drugs and sex are common during this age period.  So I am left scratching my head on this one.  This age group is old enough, both cognitively and developmentally, to deal with these issues, and they probably already are in their own lives, so why not talk about it?

The politics of literature never cease to amaze me.


Related Stories:

Banned Books Week: 5 of Your Favorites

“And Tango Makes Three” Tops List of Banned Books

Would You Burn a Book?


photo credit: Tayrawr Fortune

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Latoya Brookins
Latoya Brookins2 years ago

I checked this book out at the library but still haven't gotten around to reading it.

I should do that this week. Once I actually sit down and start reading it should only take an hour or so to read.

Delaine Buksa
Delaine Buksa3 years ago

I read it in a day, and it was fantastic. Then I lent it to my friend, and she lent it to her sister.

Rachel W.
Rachel W.3 years ago

I figure if you don't like it, don't read it! Just because it has cursing, and sexuality and other context. Does not mean the person reading is going to start swearing or start having sex or start drinking. That's just stupid. This book doesn't promote that. I 1st read this book when I was 15. It was an eye opener. I don't think children and teens should be sheltered. It is honest and shows stuff that teens really deal with and it has become my favorite book, ever!

Gloria Morotti
Gloria Morotti4 years ago


John B.
John B.4 years ago

never heard of the book and it really holds no interest for me but to ban it is stupidity and to want others to be as stupid as you.

Julia W.
Julia W.4 years ago

This is a GREAT book and I recommend it heartily.

As a lover of banned books I read two today -- or perhaps reread I'm not sure-- Sumer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene and Are You There God? It's Me Margaret by Judy Blume. Such beautiful books!

Read a banned book-- somebody doesn't want you reading it-- it *must* be good!

Marianne C.
Marianne C.4 years ago

Wasn't only a few years ago that Those Who Ban wanted to force newspapers not to publish the cartoon strip "For Better or for Worse" on "certain days" because one of the son's friends discovered during high school that he was Gay?

It's not as though trying to ignore Gay teens, and pregnant teens, and teens who have been molested is going to change the facts of their reality. It happens in the world we all live in. Come out of fantasy land and accept the real world.

Sheri Schongold
Sheri Schongold4 years ago

Again the banners are people who want us to know only what they want and to read only what they say we can. As a Wallflower myself, we tend to know more about life be it good or bad and high school for some people, can at the very least be brutal, but no one wants anyone to talk about that. We might damage someone's psyche if we tell the truth.

Winn Adams
Winn Adams4 years ago

Thanks for the info.

Bev E.
Bev E.4 years ago

I thought the book was very well done and it was my daughter who recommended it to me. When I was growing up, if I heard of a book being banned, I was the first one to find it. People who ban books live in a fantasy world where everyone is caring and good, and they are afraid if teens on up read about violence, racism, homosexuality, sex and rape they will try something. Maybe next they'll ban Little Red Riding and The Wizard of Oz, etal. It's because of the act of banning that makes some people unable to face their feelings so they seek out these actions.