BOOK REVIEW BY CYNTHIA RODRIGUEZ
Let me begin by saying, that as a teenager, I was never too much into reading many of the teen angsty books my peers were reading. From what I can remember, I can probably count on one hand all the Judy Blume type books that were probably popular at the time, that I actually READ. And I LOVED the "SCHOLASTIC BOOK CLUB". I remember getting so excited when the latest "catolog" was passed around the classroom, which consisted of a mere two or three pages printed on what seemed like flimsy color, newspaper print. I remember circling too many items, wanting everything in there, and then having to scribble out the circles because I knew I wasn't going to get EVERYTHING in the catalog. I would get just as excited when "R.I.F" came around. Does anyone remember that? ("Reading Is Fundamental"), or am I just dating myself?
Anyways, I DO remember reading a lot of material my friends thought of as odd, or at least interesting for my age. Like for example, I loved reading Encyclopedias. I especially liked visiting family or friends that had encyclopedias. In that time if you had a nice set of those on your shelf in your living room it was a big thing. It's hard to imagine now that at one point in the past there was actually such a job as "Encyclopedia Salesperson". Seems funny now being how obsolete they are in today's society. I also indulged in books about psychology, how the brain works and human nature in general. Books you probably wouldn't find in your average teen's locker, I'm sure. I don't think I'm completely sure why I was so fascinated by those books at the time, but I was. I DID have some "normal" fun, age appropriate books as well, which I feel balanced it all out, such as the movie picture books of the "Star Wars" trilogy, (the original)"Clash Of The Titans", and "Gremlins". Hey, whaddya expect? I was a teenager of the 80's! And I LOVED it.
So decades later, I find myself on this teen angst book kick lately. Almost like I may subconsiously be feeling like I have some catching up to do with these books that I probably could've used back then. Now this one in particular actually didn't come out in my time. It's only been out for about ten years or so, so I would've been about 30 at the time. Still way past the teen years. I didn't realize it came out so long ago until after I read it. I'm supposing the LONG awaited movie that's out has something to do with it's resurgence.
"THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER" BY STEPHEN CHBOSKY Okay, back to the book. Our unlikely hero is "Charlie", (which his name I love because it happens to be my DRAG name), an almost autistic like, (either that or he just has some major issues, which he does) is a shy, sweet, polite teenager with extraordinary powers of observation. So much so that it grabs the attention of a couple of almost "in-kids" at his school who take him under his wing, and help transform him from "wallflower" to one who participates, and gets on the dance floor of life. Those friends mainly consists of his "two favorite people" very gay, and out Patrick, and his sister who he's totally in love with but he's not supposed to be, "Sam".
The thing about Charlie though is that he's made out to be some kind of introvert, but this Clark Kent takes off the glasses, breaks out of his shell, and kicks ass (literally) when he has to. The book completely consists of letters that Charlie sends each one with a "Love always Charlie" to someone we never get to know who it is, except for the fact that this person is an adult. He begins this journal to the self after his best friend commits suicide, and it is suggested to him that he writes out his problems for therapuetic purposes. Surprise, surprise,(NOT), later on he talks about becoming a writer which his new circle of friends encourage him to do, even to the point of getting him a suit because "all the great writers wore a suit", and an antique typewriter. One of my favorite parts in the book. I have one of those myself. This book deals with many issues, and ups, and downs of being a teenager. Much of this that I believe people carry into their adulthoods. Issues of sexuality, drugs, abuse, and self identity.
Like the many conversations I've had with people about this is that I believe that highschool is a microcosm of society. That guy who was a prick back in highschool, is probably still a prick. That girl was a stuck-up bitch back then....most likely STILL is. I would recommend this book to everyone, of all ages. But especially today's teens who I think need it the most being that they are at their peak of struggling with all this bullshit. Which brings me to another puzzling fact. This book has actually been banned, and or "challenged" in certain places in the U.S. I find it very interesting that pretty much any book having to do with real issues such as sex, abortion, and drug abuse get banned or challenged.
HELLO! This is LIFE. These are the things they are dealing with! They NEED to know. Don't hide it from them. That will not make these issues go away. EVER. This novel was actually the "BANNED BOOK OF THE MONTH" review featured on my monthly radio show "BOOK SLUT CLUB RADIO" episode 2 this month. Another thing I enjoyed very much was the many cultural references that were either some of my favorites, or made me curious to look them up, as far as books, movies, and poetry.
Speaking of movies, much to the dismay of my radio show co-host and I, we cannot seem to find a local theatre featuring the film adaption of this book which we were highly anticipating. Especially since the movie was basically created by the guy who wrote it. That's usually a pretty good sign that the film will be up to par with the book. It's so surprisingly enlightening. It was one of those books I was sad to see end. I really wanted to know what happens to Charlie. He's such a good kid. I want to know, does he really grow up to be a famous writer? I certainly hope so.