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the perks of being a wallflower

Book 4 on the Frequently Challenged Book List was the perks of being a wallflower by Stephen Chbosky.

Wouldn't recommend it. It's a high school drama that reads like everything that could possibly happen in an after school special. It reminded me of the family guy parody... "Everything important is happening in front of THESE LOCKERS!" I found the main character to be vague and totally unrelatable, maybe because he's a 14 year old kid who, in an attempt to be a great writer, really dances around everything he's trying to say. It's written as a sort of journal and it's interesting to see his writing style improve throughout the book but starting out? Painful!

In the book, there's a very nice teacher who encourages him. In my experience this is a great way to make a bestseller - write your teacher characters as life-saving, because high school reading lists are chosen by teachers. I accused Catcher in the Rye of doing the same thing and I'm pretty sure the "good teacher" is a prime reason why we're all listening to these whiny oppressed high school boys as main characters in our english classes.

There's a movie version of the book so we rented the movie and Marc really liked it, and I had to admit the movie was an improvement over the book. The main character was NOTHING like the whiny twerp I pictured in my head... that's when I did some math and realized that when the main actor, Logan Lerman, starred in this movie he was 20 years old. I realize this happens all the time... nobody wants to put real teenagers on TV, apparently? But there is a huge difference between 14 and 20! The movie, released in 2012, did a decent enough job with the early 90s soundtracks and references to cassette tapes, but it still didn't feel like it was set in the 90s, the clothes weren't grunge enough, it was like a 2012 movie with mix tapes.

Back to the book... the teacher wants the kid to read The Fountainhead. That right there should tell you something awful.

It's also littered with song references, which I think is kind of lazy - using tons of song and book references feels to me like co-opting a vibe that other artists created.

The book is frequently challenged in high school classes because it has gay characters, sex, drugs, and alcohol. After school special!

So that was my weekend read, 4th on this book list but it's the only book I'd say I was disappointed with. 2 to go.

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Comments

( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
randomdreams
Mar. 12th, 2016 05:40 pm (UTC)
It's good to have read the fountainhead, in order to more readily critique it.
spacefem
Mar. 13th, 2016 03:31 pm (UTC)
so true. I will not consider the effort wasted.
raisedinsuburbs
Mar. 12th, 2016 08:46 pm (UTC)
Someone I knew thought this book was an amazing, lifechanging sort of read, but I found it to be trite and shallow. I'm so glad I'm not the only one who feels it isn't all that!
luzclarita
Mar. 12th, 2016 09:45 pm (UTC)
As a teen librarian, you just described 40% of the entire section. Haven't read that one yet, but now I know the genre!
lookfar
Mar. 13th, 2016 04:36 am (UTC)
I love, love, love the movie version of Perks. I saw it several times before reading the book. If it gives you any insight, Chbosky is a screenwriter by training, not a novelist, and I think the book reads more like a treatment for a film, which is why the film is so much better than the book.

I have a sentimental attachment to the film because Honora and I saw it in a theater while we were college roadtripping - you know, the last time you get your child alone before she spreads her wings. I think the film does a better job with the fact that the main character was sexually abused in childhood and is gradually remembering and coming to terms with it; in the book it was rather mysterious. I think that explains some of the narrator's vagueness.

I also liked that the kids are ridiculously privileged and don't see it - those huge houses and new cars and private colleges! - because rich kids can also have torment and self-esteem issues and problems. Why not. I liked that they were utterly unaware of their socioeconomic situation.
spacefem
Mar. 13th, 2016 03:36 pm (UTC)
ah - knowing he's a screenwriter definitely helps explain why this book had a soundtrack!

personally I get sick of reading about privileged white kids, I feel like they are overabundant in literature and movies. I hated Catcher in the Rye, Citizen Kane, lots of "classics" because I'm sorry I just don't feel sorry for rich people and don't feel like I'm a better more educated person after reading about their problems. The world is already full of voices from rich powerful people, amiright? this could be the topic of a whole other lj entry.

oh and yes I was SHOCKED in the movie when it was revealed that he'd been sexually abused! 100% missed it in the book, googled it to see if I was just crazy, nope, everybody missed it! vagueness to the max there!

Edited at 2016-03-13 03:43 pm (UTC)
sandokai
Mar. 13th, 2016 11:50 am (UTC)
I read that book once years ago. All I remember was thinking 'Meh!"
gilda_elise
Mar. 13th, 2016 12:27 pm (UTC)
I read The Fountainhead years ago. I found the female characters totally unlikeable, and the whole thing pretty much a waste of time.
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )

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