Sunday, September 29, 2013

Banned Books: THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER

As Banned Book Week draws to an end, I'm going to highlight one of my all-time favorite books being on the banned list: THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER by Stephen Chbosky.

Reasons for being banned: anti-family, drugs, homosexuality, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit, suicide, unsuited to age group


I will start off by saying that I actually read this book as a straight-up teenager and I FREAKING LOVED IT. The things it was banned for did not make me more likely to curse or be anti-family or think of suicide. It was the first book that I remember reading and being emotionally swayed by it. Because, let's face it: I was SUCH a wallflower in high school and needed to know the perks of it.

Now, before this time I was reading TONS of other books. I won't say that none of those other books had an affect on me. But as a teen reading this particular book, it was just something different. Something freeing and honest and I could relate to it whole-heartedly. I cried and I laughed and when I finished it I sat there thinking about it afterwards for days.

To be completely honest, I never read it again after that first time as a teenager but the FEELING that it had given me never left either. So much so that when the movie came out, I was bursting to see that amazing novel come to life before my eyes. And the movie was so well done that I laughed and cried and thought about it again for days afterwards.

That's when you know it was a good story.

Would my life be different if that story had been banned? Probably not, technically. But I would have missed out on a great story with a great message, and who is someone else to keep that from me because they don't agree with everything in it?

I do agree that there are some books I read in high school that maybe I just wasn't "grown-up" enough to understand or realize the bigger picture. But I believe everyone is at a different intellectual or awareness level and so we can't always judge as a WHOLE for what is right or wrong for others to read, even young people.


I can straight up admit that I didn't understand or get anything out of THE CATCHER IN THE RYE when I had to read it for school. Maybe because it was assigned to me? Maybe it was the age? It didn't provide me much meaning. But I bet you now, as an older and more seasoned person, I would probably read it and see so many more details that were hiding from me because of my inexperience.

So I guess that's my real message here on banned books. Maybe some books really aren't appropriate for certain people at certain ages. But I can never believe there is an all-encompassing rule for that kind of banning. What might have been inappropriate or "too much" for me to read as a 15-year-old could be TOTALLY different from you. I don't believe I should have the power to stop anyone from reading any book because if someone had pushed hard enough in my community against THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER, I would have missed out on something magical. And who am I to determine what will be magical for one person over the other?

What do you think about banning books? Would you ever push to ban a book for certain reasons or should we all be free to choose what we want and only let parents govern our choices when we are at a young age?

2 comments:

  1. Excellent post. My 14-year-old daughter read PERKS after seeing the movie, and she loved both. Maybe because of Logan Lerman and Emma Watson, but I think mostly for the reasons you list above. She's made me promise to put it on my to-read list.

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    1. Yes, I think it is definitely an awesome read for any age. Your daughter has pretty good taste, but I'm sure you already know that :)

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