The Life of Bon: Book Talk: Perks of Being a Wallflower

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Book Talk: Perks of Being a Wallflower


Today was our monthly banned book club meeting.  The students showed up in droves!  And by that I mean we had 30 students there.  Egads, success!

Our December book was The Perks of Being a Wallflower.  I am aware that its January, but you know, you do what you can.

I loved the discussion that we had today.  I am constantly amazed by how smart the students are.  I think the greatest moment in teaching is when a student gives insight that I had never thought of.  They take an angle or see a view or make a point and I just sit back and think, "Wow!  I never saw it that way, but you're totally right."

Here's some things we talked about:

What are "the perks of being a wallflower"?  What are the advantages and disadvantages to being a "wallflower" vs. a "participator".

Charlie's relationship with his Aunt Helen.  This one gets so complex.  ***Spoiler Alert*** Charlie's aunt is dead throughout the course of the novel, but he looks back on her fondly and implies that her unexpected death is the reason for a lot of his loneliness and depression.  He states that she was the only one who ever called him special and got him "two presents"- one for his birthday and one for Christmas.  It isn't until the very end of the book that we find out that the aunt had been sexually abusing Charlie as a young boy.  Thus making the whole relationship that much more confusing.  Some students were willing to forgive the abuse, stating that she had been abused as a child and that we are all victims of victims.  Others didn't excuse her so quickly, losing all respect for her once they had found out.  I was especially interested by one student's comment that she thought the sexual abuse part of the book was "unnecessary".  That the author didn't need to add it in to explain Charlie's weirdness and that the book would have been better without it.

"We accept the love we think we deserve".  Agree or disagree with this statement?  Where have you seen this in other literature or in your own lives?

Why is the book commonly banned?  Should it be?  This one got the kids all riled up.  Some said they would be wildly uncomfortable reading this in class while others said it would be refreshing to read something this "real" in school.  Of course we brought up the drug use, the teen sex scenes, the child abuse, and the abortion.  One student brought up that he didn't think the abortion played that big of a part in the book and pointed out that the movie had cut it out completely.  I haven't seen the movie yet, but I am dying to.  The best part was when a kid who unknowingly stumbled in to the meeting raised his hand and said after a long discussion about the sex and drug use, "I don't know what book you are talking about, but I would like to read that in class.  It sounds way more interesting than what we read!"  I bet it does, kiddo, I bet it does.

 "And in that moment we were infinite".  What is the significance of this line (One of the most famous lines in the book and movie.)

What makes Charlie different than other protagonists?  Do you consider him weak?

Is this an accurate representation of high school?  I was especially interested in this one as the kids all seemed to agree that it was pretty accurate.  I felt that the book was a bit over the top/ dramatized but the kids disagreed.  THE TEENS HAVE SPOKEN!

If you haven't read the book, I suggest you do.  It's a super fast read at probably a 7th grade reading level and barely 200 pages  Charlie, the protagonist, is so incredibly thoughtful and sincere and you can't help but fall in love with him.  I can totally see why the book is banned for high schools, but I don't see the book to be immoral.  There is love and friendship and family and even some warm fuzzies in there if you look hard enough for it.

Have you read Perks of being a Wallflower? What did you think of it?!? And those of you who have seen the movie, give us a review!  How does it compare to the book?

P.S.  January's book is SlaughterHouse Five. We will be discussing it on January 31.  Pick up a copy so you can join in on next month's discussion!  Internet book club- boo yah!

43 comments:

  1. LOVED this book when I read it.

    ReplyDelete
  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I haven't read the book but I really really liked the movie. charlie, sam and patrick were all cast very well I thought. The movie created a good sense of nostalgia. I'll have to have to add this book to my list.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I am soo excited for you to have gotten 30 kids to sit around and talk about a book! That's so great!

    I, personally, loved this book. Its been a couple of years since I have read it. But, I remember thinking that I could understand why it might not be read as a class assignment, but that I definitely think teen readers would enjoy it and could learn from it.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I still have yet to read this book. Wah I guess I'll be adding it to my ever long list of books to read.

    ReplyDelete
  6. One of my favorite books!! Can't wait to see the movie.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I haven't read the book or seen the movie, but your post just made me go buy it for my Kindle! I needed a new read, thanks! :)

    ReplyDelete
  8. I just finished reading this book and I LOVED it. I also haven't seen the movie and I cannot wait to see it! I loved this post!

    xo

    MacKensie

    ReplyDelete
  9. This is one of those books I always go back to. It's been one of my very favorites since I read it as a freshman in high school. I think it relates so well to so many different people. I didn't do drugs, have a gay best friend, or have family problems but I was painfully shy and I didn't really participate in my own life. I think that's why the title caught my eye. Wallflowers see things that others don't. They witness human nature almost from the god-like perspective that we readers usually see things unfold in novels. The thing I loved most about this book was how it was written. I really felt like Charlie was talking to me personally. He will probably always be my favorite character (though I don't think of him as one).

    I literally counted down the days until the movie was released, drove an hour to see it, and I was disappointed. It just didn't feel like the book felt to me, but things are always interpreted differently by different people I guess.

    ReplyDelete
  10. This was my favorite book as a teen in high school!!! It holds a very special place in my heart!

    ReplyDelete
  11. The book is fantastic because its so easy to relate to for almost everyone! And the movie was done so well I cried! I reviewed the book here on my blog :)

    http://sineadelle.blogspot.co.nz/2012/10/blogger-book-club-perks-of-being.html

    ReplyDelete
  12. I love this book and gave it to my teenager to read when he had his wisdom teeth out - he loved it too. The writing is poignant and Charlie captured my heart. He gives such a voice to the thoughts and feelings during adolescence (and often adulthood too).
    In addition, as a therapist who works a lot with kids who have survived sexual abuse I thought the book did a good job of illustrating the confusion and complexity of abuse when it is perpetrated by someone with whom there is a established and positive relationship - such as a family member, coach / mentor, religious leader or family friend.

    PS What a great book club! I would have loved this when I was in high school.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I haven't read the book, but now I think I need to! The movie was great- I would definitely see it again. I would agree- Charlie was easy to fall in love with!

    ReplyDelete
  14. I've got to tell you, I love this line more than anything - "and in that moment we were infinite" - and I hated the fact that the movie didn't even say it directly. It was one of the most powerful moments of the book for me, about embracing life, living to the fullest, being present in the moment, and always trying to make sure that you feel something. You know, I might make some wall art that says that this weekend. I really love that quote.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I read it on a bus trip and thought it was a great book. Definitely not the hardest reading you might find but still great. I also loved the line "at that moment we were infinite" like the person ^^ probably my favorite in the book since I can definitely immediately think of a moment like that.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I read this book sometime last year, and I borderline loved it. The story was great, and there were some stellar lines. I honestly thing that "we accept the love we think we deserve" is one of the greatest lines ever. Ever.

    But if Charlie cried one more time? I probably would have stopped reading it. It just got to be too much for me! I wanted to say, "I understand you're totally emo and all, but suck it uppppppp."

    I was pleasantly surprised with the movie though. Compared to most book-turned-movie, I think they did a great job sticking to the story. And Charlie didn't cry every 5 minutes. AND I secretly dream of becoming Emma Watson one day, so there's that.

    ReplyDelete
  17. I remember reading this book when I was in school. I've been dying to re-read it since I heard about the movie coming out! Personally I would have been uncomfortable discussing it in a classroom, but that's just because of my personality. However, I think that as teachers we need to strive to find things that are interesting to our students. If they are assigned books that they would be more likely to read there would be a greater chance of participation. I feel like so often we wonder why students don't want to be participating or do their assignments and yet were unwilling to assign something to draw them in.

    Ever since I heard that you were doing a banned book club at your school I thought it was a wonderful way to get students reading and excited about books again. I rarely enjoyed books that were assigned to me, but I always tried to finish my work quickly so I could read my own books

    ReplyDelete
  18. I've really never been a fan of this book. Not sure what it is, but I really kind of see this book as overhyped.

    ReplyDelete
  19. I remember reading this book in high school. One of our teachers kept a bookshelf of banned books behind his desk that we could grab if we wanted. It was so eye opening to a teenager and I still remember sitting and talking to my friends about it while we waited for practice!

    I'm glad other kids are pushing themselves to read things that aren't just shoved at them in school.

    ReplyDelete
  20. I read Perks of Being a Wallflower in college and have wanted to re-read it for some time. It was a loan to me from my big sister in my sorority as it was her favorite book. I just downloaded it on my Kindle and can't want to get to it (I have close to no memory of my first reading...weird?)

    ReplyDelete
  21. I read Perks of Being a Wallflower in college and have wanted to re-read it for some time. It was a loan to me from my big sister in my sorority as it was her favorite book. I just downloaded it on my Kindle and can't want to get to it (I have close to no memory of my first reading...weird?)

    ReplyDelete
  22. Loved the book because of the twist at the end! Never got a chance to see the movie unfortunately :(

    ReplyDelete
  23. I read this book as a high school freshman. My teacher lent it to me. I loved it and wished that we could have read it in class. Some parts may have been uncomfortable to discuss in class but the book is so good that I would have been willing to do that.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Love your book club.

    I enjoyed this book and read it very quickly, but it was also painful to read at times. I think the writing itself is phenomenal though- some of the lines like:

    "It's just that sometimes people use thought to not participate in life."
    or
    "'He's my whole world.'
    'Don't ever say that about anyone again. Not even me.'"
    or
    "…[I] put my head under my pillow and let the quiet put things where they are supposed to be."

    I could go on…but seriously just great writing.

    I would totally be okay teaching it, discussing it etc. Like your kiddos said, they feel it's pretty accurate to life they are experiencing (I still have hope it's a little over the top, but the angst in teens just makes them see it as more accurate). However, when I think of my baby girl growing up and in 16 years reading this book in her bedroom at night…I shudder. What's up with that?

    ReplyDelete
  25. I just finshed reading this book and loved it! I can see why they banned it, but also think it would have been kinda fun to read in high school. I totally would have been more into writing a paper about this book then many of the others I had to read!

    ReplyDelete
  26. I think I might order this! Slaughter-House Five is one of my FAVORITE books ever. My 9th grade English teacher gave it to me to read when I finished tests earlier than everyone and couldn't leave the room ;)

    ReplyDelete
  27. I each 7th grade English. I really should read this book, just started Unwholly by Shusterman. Sooooo good! Happily following you along too :)
    Ginny
    mynewfavoriteoutfit.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  28. I loved the book and the movie! I thought the movie was a great depiction of the book. I was not disappointed. It's so awesome that your kids are voluntarily reading. I love the idea of reading banned books!

    ReplyDelete
  29. Hi Bonnie! I've never read that book yet, I used to be a book reader before having kids and before fb and before blogging. Hope to have that time again to read a book.

    I'm so glad you joined the Fun Friday Blog Hop and for following me! I definitely don't mind you following me along.

    I hope you'll enjoy your visits to my blog! I'm following you back.

    huggies***
    rea-http://homefor4sweethome.blogspot.com/

    ReplyDelete
  30. I haven't read the book (though I really want to!), but I LOVE that you have a banned books club with your kids! I kind of want to start one with my friends!

    Thanks for stopping by Good Girl Gone Wife :)

    ReplyDelete
  31. Stopping by from the blog hop... Love the idea of a banned book - book club :)

    As far as our school daycare goes - it is awesome. I am in charge of curriculum for our school - grades Pre-K to 6th. Our daycare has a full-time and a part-time option which is wonderful. I love having my children right down the hall :) Can't wait to follow along with your blog!

    ReplyDelete
  32. Hi Bonnie,
    I haven't read the book or seen the movie, but now I'm curious. I'm going to have to read it. Thank you.

    Karina
    http://momintheusa.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  33. Hi Bonnie. Thanks for commenting on my blog. Returning the favor. I haven't read or seen this, but I have to tell you that after all these comments and your review, I gotta read it, or at least watch the movie. Thanks for bringing it to light.
    Julie
    http://icreatepurtythangs.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  34. I loved this book so much!

    ReplyDelete
  35. It's such a wonder how the author wrote drugs/sex/child abuse in such a ... light, nondramatic manner. I think his manner of writing is one of the reasons why it is so easy to relate to.

    Honestly speaking, the line "And in that moment I swear we were infinite" is overrated. I first heard that line before reading the book ... It's such a great line and I was actually expecting something better on the scene it was used for.

    I don't have any plan to watch the movie because I think I'll be disappointed. Most of the movie adaption nowadays are nowhere as good as the books.=n=

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I really hope blogspot would come up with edit buttons...

      Anyway, I don't think Charlie is weak. He isn't just the normal protagonist material. I actually love his character. I love how consistent his character is despite the character developments.

      Anyway...this is such a great post. It's always great knowing other people's thoughts. :)

      Delete
  36. not reading this whole post till after i see the movie tonight - and then i might have to read the book :)

    ReplyDelete
  37. internet book club = GREAT IDEA!. i keep seeing this book at the store, but have yet to pick it up. i've just got back into reading this last little bit. i jumped back in with 'Wild' by Cheryl Strayed, read some reviews you may like it. a to-do on my 2013 list is to read all of the Jane Austen books. I've never been interested in them, and they are not my style at all, but i was watching a movie about them late one night while making jewelry, and i thought i would check them out. My sister got me three of them for xmas, i'm just struggling right now to fit in some reading time!

    ReplyDelete

  38. Thank you for joining Friday Chaos, am following back via FB

    Thisdayilove

    ReplyDelete
  39. I read the book in high school because the author based a lot of his research on Charlie on The Catcher in the Rye...and I really love that book.

    I thought both Holden and Charlie were strong characters even though a lot of people view them as weak. I felt it was necessary as a plot tie that Charlie was abused because I couldn't understand the whole book why he "didn't feel worthy" of Sam's love until that. Reading the book I became annoyed why he didn't just go after her, but dated that one girl. After I realized they had both been abused, I realized why they had such warped views of love.

    The movie is really similar, but they drop the abortion part.

    ReplyDelete
  40. We read this book for our blogger book club in november (i think)...i wasn't really into it and the overall response was kind of negative so it was interesting for me to read your perspective and the comments.

    one of my friends teaches 10th grade English and she does a "book club" thing where the kids can pick the books they read and she splits them into group based on their book choice and this is one of the books they read.

    ReplyDelete
  41. Definitely going to hit up the library for a copy of Slaughterhouse Five! I want to be in your Banned Books Club, that kind of thing is right up my alley. Any way to get kids to read is just fine by me!

    ReplyDelete
  42. Enjoyable and emotionally engaging coming-of-age teen drama with a superb soundtrack, a sensitive, sharply written script and a trio of terrific performances from Lerman, Miller and Watson.
    Best Donate Cell Phone to Support our Troops

    ReplyDelete