In celebration of the anniversary of this one of a kind story, we are reflecting on Charlie’s book list in The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Maybe you can make this one of your 2021 reading lists!
Stephen Chbosky is back! After a twenty year hiatus since his first novel, the best seller The Perks of Being a Wallflower, he is back with a new novel, Imaginary Friend. Released on October 1.
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Similar to the Perks, Imaginary Friend is set in a fictional town called Mill Grove in Western Pennsylvania, which is where Chbosky grew up. The story follows new kid in town Christopher, who is being haunted by a voice in his head. The voice tells Christopher creepy and disturbing stories, and it demands he build a tree house in the woods or else.
Chbosky attended Streams Elementary School, same as Christopher in the book. He even got the inspiration for the book by imagining himself standing outside that school, and looking up at a cloud, that just so happens to talk. He also drew some inspiration from two people he admires, George Romero, who was best known for his gruesome and satirical horror films. As well as Stephen King, who the book is dedicated too. So it’s safe to say this book has a lot of horror elements in it, which is completely different than the Perks, but will be just as amazing.
Who will be getting their hands on a copy?
Featured Image via Publishers Weekly
...even if you’re reading this at any other time of the year when you just managed to scrape out a whole day (or two) to read, then it wouldn’t hurt to keep this list in mind…
The Perks of Being a Wallflower author Stephen Chbosky has officially named the release date for his second novel, Imaginary Friend.
Image Via Deadline
In 1995, Stephen Chbosky’s debut film, The Four Corners of Nowhere, was released. An independent film, it debuted at Sundance Film Festival, and became one of the first films shown on the Sundance Channel. He worked on several projects in varying roles afterwards, including producing The Poughkeepsie Tapes, although many of the films he wrote fell through.
But in 1999 came his debut novel The Perks of Being a Wallflower.
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An epistolary novel, meaning the story is told through letters, the book follows Charlie, an introverted teenager, as he goes through his freshman year of high school in a Pittsburgh suburb.
The New York Times has since noted the novel, since publication, has been “passed from adolescent to adolescent like a hot potato”. In 2012 the novel was ranked number 16 on NPR’s list of the “100 Best-Ever Teen Novels”.
There’s also been considerable controversy around the book regarding the novel’s themes of homosexuality, and descriptions of masturbation drug use as well as conversations about suicide, appearing on American Library Association’s 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2009 lists of the 10 most frequently challenged books.
Since the novel’s release, Chbosky wrote and directed an adaptation of his novel and experienced a kick off in his career, writing Disney’s remake Beauty and the Beast, starring Emma Watson, alongside Evan Spiliotopoulos and the comedy drama Wonder.
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In February, Book Seller wrote that Chbosky had a second book coming out, Imaginary Friend, which had been described as “a wildly ambitious, sweeping work of literary horror” that “focuses on Kate Reese, a single mother fleeing an abusive relationship by starting over in a new town, with her young son Christopher [whose] world begins to unravel after Christopher vanishes into the Mission Street Woods – where 50 years earlier an eerily similar disappearance occurred”. The twist is that her son “emerges six days later, unharmed but not unchanged, he brings with him a secret: a voice only he can hear and a warning of tragedy to come”.
Now, Chbosky announced on Twitter that the book is coming out October 1st in an astonishing video tweet. It looks like a picture before it transforms into the book cover.
It’s a work of art, and you should check it out below!
Featured Image Via Open Letters Monthly
On this day in 1999, Stephen Chbosky‘s groundbreaking The Perks of Being a Wallflower hit bookstores across the United States. A decade before the rise of YA, this novel was among the first YA publications to tackle issues of death, sexuality, drug use, and mental illness. Though many schools have banned the novel for its candid and earnest depiction of adolescence, audiences have spent two decades loving it for the same reason. Even twenty years after its publication, The Perks of Being a Wallflower remains a relevant and progressive depiction of growing up and the intense desire for understanding and connection those teenage years can bring.
Image Via Study Breaks Magazine
Even in a decade of increasing LGBT+ representation, many YA novels, films, and shows still struggle to include a queer character whose sexuality is not central to the narrative—essentially, a character whose sexuality doesn’t condemn them to plot hell as their partners leave and their parents punish. In 2018 (NINE years after Perks), Love, Simon became the first teen romantic comedy film to feature a gay protagonist and then make him happy. While queer stories aren’t entirely absent from the mainstream, they have one major thing in common: creators love to wring gay tears. (The Perks of Being a Wallflower may turn on the waterworks, but this isn’t the reason why.)
Characters participate in The Rocky Horror Picture Show* in Perks’ film adaptation
*The Rocky Horror Picture Show is gay culture
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Today (when we ought to be more aware than ever before), many feel that YA novels struggle to responsibly depict mental illness. In 2017, Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why ignited a controversy around its possible glorification of suicide. The novel tells the story of mentally ill teen Hannah, who, before her tragic suicide, records thirteen tapes meant for thirteen separate people—each of whom, she claims, is a direct cause of her untimely death. Critics lambasted Asher (who now stands accused of sexual assault) for framing the story in a manner suggesting that suicide is the only thing that can give Hannah a voice. Critics also feel that the show (and by extension, the book) fixates on the dramatic act of suicide rather than the constant reality of mental illnesses—a reality which is as much dramatic acting out as it is acting like nothing at all.
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In contrast, The Perks of Being a Wallflower presents a raw depiction of mental illness from a more clinical—and simultaneously more hopeful—perspective. Charlie’s derealization episodes and flashbacks make sense from both a narrative and psychological standpoint, and his PTSD is a feature of the story rather than its emotional core.
Though the epilogue contains references to sexual abuse, this isn’t how the book (or Charlie’s story) ends. Instead, the book’s most iconic line comes after readers come to understand all that Charlie has been through. He’s not alone but with his friends, a mentally ill person who reads as more person than illness. The novel concludes hopefully: “and in that moment, I swear we were infinite.”