I'm a little ashamed of myself for only managing to read one book in the month of October, considering that for about 2/3 of the month I've been laying in bed recovering from surgery! I actually have started two other books (Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and The Magicians), but just haven't found much motivation to finish them, but I'll try to power through!
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
If I was only going to read one book, I am so glad this was the one! Told in the form of letters written by Charlie, a high school freshman, to a mystery person that we never meet, this book (a very short read) spans his freshman year of high school and a million ups and downs within that year. All we know is that Charlie admires this mystery person because they "didn't sleep with that person at that party when they could have." And thus begins our look into Charlie's mind and the slightly off-kilter way that it works.
I found this book to be immensely important as a young adult novel. It tells the story of a high school experience from a perspective that is too often overlooked. Charlie is an outcast struggling to find his place, but as you read his personal letters you find that his struggle is unique in that it is felt so deeply it becomes dangerous. Charlie's a weird kid: his reaction to most situations is crying, he doesn't understand simple social constructs, he sees and experiences things but lacks the ability to comprehend them as they are happening, and yes, he's a wallflower (and one could argue probably falls somewhere on the autism scale). But I absolutely and completely loved that Chbosky chose to put this high school experience down on paper. It is largely opposite from my own high school experience on the surface, but the deep running feelings of confusion and loneliness and out-of-placeness are something we've all felt at least an inkling of at one point or another.
Additionally, I have wanted to read this book for a long time because it is often banned from libraries. I wrote my senior thesis in college on the dangers of banning books from our schools, so this is an issue I feel extremely strongly about. I once was included on an e-mail thread from a former boss discussing with a school board how Perks should be removed from the school library. Here was the kicker: Not one of the adults included on the thread had ever read the book. Because they had heard that it contained mentions of child abuse, rape, masturbation, and homosexuality (without any idea of the context of those mentions), they deemed it worthy of their censorship. I have huge issues with this that could fill a 30-page college paper (literally, as I have already written it), but here's what I concluded when I read this book: It is a heart-breakingly beautiful depiction of a teenage boy struggling violently with personal issues and searching for a place where he can fit, and that story could not be less dangerous to a high school student.
I've seen lots of other bloggers who have read this book and given reviews that are basically the opposite of mine, but I adored it. If you've read it, I would love to hear your view!