I came across this article on the Huffington Post this morning.
A dad in my province doesn’t like that The Perks of Being a Wallflower is being taught in Grade 10. He wants to get it banned. He believes that the book is borderline pornographic and is filled with graphic, inappropriate material.
So many thoughts.
First, banning books just make them more interesting. My dad wants to stop me from reading a book, now I want to know what about this book is so exciting that my dad doesn’t want me reading it. I will get it from a friend, the library, this thing called the Internet that lets me order whatever I want. Maybe Amazon will even recommend other related books that I might like.
I’ve read The Perks of Being a Wallflower – it was a book club book a while back. And I loved it. I thought it was an honest, brilliant portrayal of growing up. Being a teenager is no joke. Over time, the memories soften and you’re able to pick through and choose the good memories (unless being a teen was really traumatic for you. Then that is not going away). You manage to forget about all the feelings of inadequacy, the worries that you’re being left out, the confusion about who you like. Being a teenager sucks.
I think that reading a book about that, about all the crazy messed up things that can happen, the temptations to indulge in drugs and alcohol, the sexual confusion, I think it helps. This book talks about all of those things but it also spins out the consequences of those decisions. Teenagers, whose brains haven’t developed that impulse control, don’t always have the ability to see through to those consequences. This book takes them along. It is honest about mental health, sex, and drinking -all things that teenagers think about but don’t necessarily vocalize.
I have teenaged siblings. If they were reading this book I’d be so proud. It would mean that they were able to see outside of themselves, that they were growing as people. Actually I’m pretty sure that my one sister has read this book. The bottom line here is that just because you’re reading about something, doesn’t mean you’re doing it. Reading about a kid having sex with a dog doesn’t set you down the path to bestiality you know?
There are loads of other books for young adults that I would argue are more difficult to digest. The Hunger Games is a whole series about children killing children. How come they are less messed up than a book that sees teens experimenting with drugs and sex?
Maybe instead of trying to get the book banned, this dad should take the opportunity to discuss this book with his son. That’s the whole point of books anyway.