Wednesday, August 29, 2012

RTW: Best Book in August

Road Trip Wednesday is a "Blog Carnival," where YA Highway’s contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered. In the comments, you can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.

This week's topic:


What's the best book you read in August?



Off the August TBR…

Zero by Tom Leveen

Fifty Shades Darker by E.L. James

Nevermore by James Patterson

The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson

The Perks of Being a Wallflower (a reread) by Stephen Chbosky

11th Hour by James Patterson

Bitterblue (currently reading) by Kristin Cashore


And the best book I read in August…




Before I get into my thoughts on the story, here are some little known facts: The Perks of Being a Wallflower is an MTV publication written by Stephen Chbosky. He also wrote the screenplay for Rent. Oh, and this was a very welcomed reread for me. Most of you I know I don’t reread books. Practically ever.

Also, the first time I read it, I borrowed a copy from a student (the perks of being a teacher). I returned it, then bought myself a copy, ya know, in case I wanted to read it again (and again and again).

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is an epistolic tale, told by the main character Charlie through a series of letters he writes to an unnamed “friend.” The letters chronicle his freshman year of high school—new friends, his first crush, his relationship with his family, and his experimentation with sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Gotcha hooked yet?

At fifteen, Charlie is incredibly thoughtful and observant—aka—a wallflower. He’s honest and sincere, just so genuinely frank about the people he sees and his thoughts about them. His family’s fairly put together. Mom doesn’t say much. Dad doesn’t show much emotion. Older brother plays football at Penn State. Older sister’s a senior at his new school. Their interactions remind me of my own family. Not perfect. But not reeking of dysfunction either. Yet Charlie suffers depression. Has for a while.

As Charlie enters high school, he’s dealing with the recent suicide of his best friend and a perpetual feeling of guilt regarding the death of his favorite aunt. This leaves him at times uncontrollably crying, other times violent, and yet other times experiencing periods of frightening stoicism—a boy many perceive as a depressed and emotional basket case—a freak. Within weeks he befriends seniors Patrick and Samantha (Sam), and they introduce him to their liberal and hard-core ways, a world in which he learns to do more than “sit on the sidelines.” He becomes what his English teacher encourages him to do—become a participant. Charlie makes friends, indulges a wild side, and falls in love. Yet at times, he still remains very much a wallflower.

Here’s just a little of Charlie’s wallflower observations and reflections…

It’s like looking at all the students and wondering who’s had their heart broken that day, and how they are able to cope with having three quizzes and a book report on top of that. Or wondering who did the heart breaking. And wondering why.

I am very interested and fascinated how everyone loves each other, but no one really likes each other.

And I thought that all those little kids are going to grow up someday. And all those little kids are going to do the things that we do. And they will all kiss someone someday. But for now, sledding is enough. I think it would be great if sledding were always enough, but it isn’t.

Or my favorite

Maybe these days are my glory days and I’m not even realizing it because they don’t involve a ball.

Charlie observes people and feels very deeply for the experiences occurring around him. He reminds me of E.T. He almost takes on everyone else’s issues like they were his own. And through their experiences, Charlie wonders how things will end up. How that girl’s going to turn out after he watched her almost get raped by her boyfriend. He wonders if that four-year old who’s screaming at his mother about his French fries is going to end up abusing someone like his sister. And while appreciating and trying to understand those around him, he comes to appreciate who he is. And understand why he is the person he’s come to be.

I read the book with a wallflower experience that paralleled Charlie’s walk through his first year of high school. I laughed with his "highs," and cried when he hit the lows. Many times, I wanted to just reach through the pages of the book and give him a freaking hug. And just as Charlie learned a lot from his observations, I learned a lot from him too. Being a wallflower does have its perks. We can look at the people around us and appreciate them. We don’t know what their lives are like. We don’t know what pain they endure. And so we should not judge. But appreciate.

So, I guess we are who we are for a lot of reasons. And maybe we’ll never know most of them. But even if we don’t have the power to choose where we came from, we can still choose where we go from there. We can still do things. And we can try to feel okay about them.

Live in the moment.

Observe. Feel. Particpate.

And in those moments, just like Charlie, we can be “infinite.”


So, that was my favorite book of the month. What was YOURS?

25 comments:

  1. What a beautiful review, and a reminder of the ideas/lessons in Charlie's story. I'm not a rereader myself, but you're making me want to pick this one up again.

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    1. Today, I talked to the student who let me Perks. She's read it NINE times. :)

      I think I could go for at least two more reads.

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  2. I loved this book when I read it, but it's been SO long. I remember wanting to reach through the pages and hug him, too, lol.

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  3. I had this book in my hands the other day, and hemmed and hawed about buying it. I didn't end up buying it, but I think I kind of need to. There's been an awful lot of buzz about this one, and I'd like to read it before the movie comes out. Guess I should get on that! Thanks, Alison. :)

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    1. Yes, I'm most curious about how this movie is going to go...but DEFINITELY read before going. :)

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  4. 'Live in the moment.

    Observe. Feel. Particpate.

    And in those moments, just like Charlie, we can be “infinite.”'

    Love this, Alison! It's a perfectly fitting reminder for me today. And yes, I have very similar opinions regarding PERKS (surprise, surprise!). Charlie was a fascinatingly odd protagonist.

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    1. Definitely different. But I LOVED him. Can you tell?!

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  5. Love Perks too. I had someone recommend it to me when I first started writing YA.

    That last quote is awesome:)

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    1. I thought so too considering I never played sports in high school.

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  6. Thanks for this post. I gotta admit, I started Perks and put it down after only a chapter or two- I just couldn't get into it, even though people have raved about it like crazy. One of the reasons I think, might be that I'd just finished a very difficult book to read about abuse and I wasn't ready to go back there again. This post made me want to give Perks another try.

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    1. A lot of people feel that way. Charlie is one of those protags that will either suck you in or turn you off. Give him a chance though. Trust me - totally worth it.

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  7. I can't wait to read THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER!!! I went out to buy it last weekend, because I must read this before I see the movie (and can't wait to see Emma Watson!).

    And FIFTY SHADES DARKER? That book - actually all three - PAINED me to get through...if I had to hear about her "inner goddess" one more time! Yikes.

    Great review - looking forward to this one!

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    1. Oh, ERIN! Yes, you must read!

      Also, took me TWO weeks to get through each of the first two Fifty Shades. SO AWFUL. Inner goddess. Oh my! or Holy F*%#

      UGH

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  8. Great review. You are the second person to talk about this book. I had been putting off reading it (even though the movie is fast approaching), but I am feeling lead to go there, and go there fast.

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    1. Do it! It's actually a very short read. I could've easily read it in a few hours. Enjoy!

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  9. Great review, great last 3 lines!
    The book sounds very intriguing. Might check it out soon! Thanks!

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  10. Okay, I've heard of this book and thought, "huh, maybe I'll read that one day." But your review has clinched it... heading to GoodReads to put it on my TBR list ... now! Thanks!

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  11. That book sounds really great actually and I need to read it before I see the movie. A girl I work with is nearly finished it and she just told me today I can borrow it after. I'll put it high on my (ever-growing) to-read list.

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    1. Take her up on it...NOW. Short read and so, so good. :)

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  12. I love Charlie so much. What a wonderful review!

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    1. Thanks! I couldn't help but love Charlie!

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