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The Hudsucker is an online magazine made up of unique and dedicated writers with fresh voices from across the country and overseas. Our team of writers are passionate and driven, bringing forth their personalities in each article. Since its inception in 2012, The Hudsucker has continuously proven how writing is our strongest fingerprint. By creating a smart and ambitious environment for readers, the digital magazine focusing on popular culture aims to be relatable through experiences and passions.

Not a Book Report, Just a Thought: Why It’s a Perk To Be A Wallflower

“A coming-of-age tale in the tradition of  The Catcher in the Rye and A Separate Peace.. poignant… inspirational… beautifully written.” – USA Today 

Listening to the low burble of people talking around me  enjoying their steaming coffee cups and crunching on chocolate chip bagels, I couldn’t help but smile at the irony of the situation. I had been trying to come up with an introduction story to my piece on the heavily acclaimed novel, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, when the idea hit me… inspiration was literally all around me.

Photo Credit: MTV Books/Gallery Books

Photo Credit: MTV Books/Gallery Books

Voices of overexcited and uncensored young high school boys from the local private school, Paul VI, had quickly taken over the Panera I happened to be “camped out” in. The boys roamed the restaurant like they were kings, without care, without thought, and with an arrogance that I couldn’t help but admire. These were the popular kids, proudly sporting their lax jerseys and their high white socks, most tall with light brown hair that was slightly ruffled at the top. The others, were scattered around the restaurant, like a handful of seeds thrown into a patch of dirt. They were just watching, listening, and making small talk. But I couldn’t watch the “wallflowers” of Panera long before the animals quickly took over my attention with their loudness…

“Dude, did you see her face? That girl needs to get some Proactive.”

“I know! But it’ll take more than that to fix her face!”

They immediately erupt in laughter, simultaneously, but I’m not entirely sure they all think it’s funny, before I hear the start of the next conversation. An opening line that I remember all too well for high school boys and that always ended in trouble…

“Dude, I dare you…”

It was at this point that my mind was drawn back to my focus: Stephen Chobosky’s novel, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and the amazingly intriguing and deeply layered story that is told through the eyes of a freshman boy named Charlie. Charlie is entering high school, when the book begins, and is writing in diary entry form to an invisible “friend.” It is obvious from only the first few chapters that three things are true about Charlie: First, that he is dealing with depression and family issues. Second, that is slightly crazy and makes odd comments. And three, that he is very, very smart.

This combination of description makes Charlie not only relatable, but also multidimensional and intriguing, as he goes on a quest to not only find friendship but also to conquer the demons that take over his mind. The world that Charlie tells about sends us (as readers) on a trip down “memory lane,” and we experience awkward first dates, high school parties/dances, and a world of experimentation of sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll all over again.

The book itself was so popular, receiving critical acclaim and selling over a million copies in print, that it inspired a major motion picture (released last year in 2012) which only continued to add to the book’s success and awareness. A major success of the movie was that it actually, in many ways, just as enjoyable as the book. The reason for this? The author of  The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Stephen Chbosky, actually wrote and directed the feature film adaptation himself.

Stephen Chbosky isn’t your average author. Chbosky graduated from the University of South California’s filmic writing program and then had a good deal of experience after that writing/directing screenplays. He wrote the screenplay for the critically acclaimed film adaptation of Rent and cocreated and served as the executive producer of the postapocalyptic drama, Jericho.

The novel itself is a young adult fictional tale that encompasses much more than meets the eye. What begins as a tale of a freshman student with no friends quickly turns into a look at critical issues which are problems today for teenagers/young adults. These include, but are not limited to, the illegal use and abuse of drugs (cigarettes, weed, alcohol, LSD), teen depression, sexual/physical abuse, being gay and finding one’s identity, overcoming shyness and bullying, and searching for the ever daunting but always questionable, meaning of life.

The role that music and literature play in also key. In the story, Charlie reads more than a few novels, given to him by his teacher. These novels are classics and intelligent readings, which also encompass parallel issues that Charlie is experiencing himself on life, morals, and much more. Charlie also repeatedly talks about music, thus driving home the fact that both music and literature can have a monumental effect on a person in the way that they both look at and act in life.

Music and literature, after all, have so much more meaning than simply the lyrics that are written and the ink that blots the page. The following list of books and songs weren’t chosen on random. They weren’t picked in a split second. They were each chosen for a reason, for a story, and for a lesson. Like any work in art, their meaning is complex, intricate, and always deeper than the skin. Dig deep enough and you’ll be surprised what you find.

BOOKS CHARLIE READS , and ones you should too:

To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee (1960)

The Side of Paradise, by F. Scott Fitzgerald (1920)

Peter Pan, by J.M. Barrie (1911)

The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald (1925)

A Seperate Peace, by John Knowles (1959)

The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger (1951)

On The Road, by Jack Kerouac (1957)

Naked Lunch, by William S. Borrughs (1959)

Walden, by Henry David Thoreau (1854)

Hamlet, by William Shakespeare

The Fountainhead, by Ayn Rand (1943)

MIX TAPE  BY CHARLIE and songs you should be listening to:

“Asleep” – The Smiths

“Vapour Trail” – Ride

“Scar Borough Fair” – Simon & Garfunkel

“A Whiter Shade of Pale” – Procol Harlim

“Time Of No Reply” – Nick Drake

“Dear Prudence” – The Beatles

“Gypsy” – Suzanne Vega

“Nights In White Satin” – The Moody Blues

“Day Dream” – The Smashing Pumpkins

“Dusk” – Genesis

“MLK” – U2

“Blackbird” – The Beatles

“Landslide” – Fleetwood Mac

“So this is my life. And I want you to know that I am both happy and sad and still trying to figure out what that could be.” – The Perks of Being A Wallflower


About the Author

Kelly is a staff writer here at “The Hudsucker”. She is currently a senior at George Mason University finishing up her B.A. in English and writes at her own blog, “How I See It“. Kelly hopes to be a professional writer and author some day that not only inspires but helps change the world for the better. Follow Kelly on Twitter as @Kelly_Kavanaugh.

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