Amidst Safeway brownies, cell phones and laptops (seriously - it seemed liked everyone brought his/her laptop!), Michelle led us as we discussed Stephen Chbosky's The Perks of Being a Wallfower for September's meeting.
Most people think 15-year-old Charlie is a freak. The only friend he had killed himself, forcing him to face high school alone. But then seniors Patrick and his beautiful stepsister Sam take Charlie under their wings and introduce him to their eclectic, open-minded, hard-partying friends. It is from these older kids that Charlie learns to live and love, until a repressed secret from his past threatens to destroy his newfound happiness.
While several book club members felt that there were aspects of the book that weren't realistic -- Charlie sounded too old for a freshman, he was too 'weird' to be adopted by seniors, "Will he ever stop crying?" -- we ended up telling our own stories of high school, which prompted much laughter. Reading about Charlie's experiences seemed to urge everyone to examine their own, which, as the librarian-in-charge, made me very happy indeed!
Towards the end of our discussion, after reflecting on whether Charlie was a reliable narrator (the entire novel is told through letters he's written to an unidentified individual), Zach asked a great question: "If Charlie is unreliable because he's telling the whole story from his point of view, does that make ALL first-person narrators unreliable?"
What do you think?
If you've already read The Perks of Being a Wallflower, why not try one of these suggestions from the teens of Kearsten's Book Club?
Liar by Justine Larbalestier. Compulsive liar Micah promises to tell the truth after revealing that her boyfriend has been murdered.
Suicide Notes by Michael Thomas Ford. Brimming with sarcasm, fifteen-year-old Jeff describes his stay in a psychiatric ward after attempting to commit suicide.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Scout Finch, daughter of the town lawyer Atticus, has just started school; but her carefree days come to an end when a black man in town is accused of raping a white woman, and her father is the only man willing to defend him.
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie. Budding cartoonist Junior leaves his troubled school on the Spokane Indian Reservation to attend an all-white farm town school where the only other Indian is the school mascot.