...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.
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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.
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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.”
Featured Image Via Study Break Magazine
The YA (Young Adult) Genre spawns some of the most popular and influential books around. YA books manage to capture the trials and tribulations of being a teenager which nearly every teen can relate to as well as provide comfort to adults who were able to bypass their teenage troubles thanks to books in that genre. Whether its been a few years or a few days since you last read a YA book, revisit your teenage angst with these ten reads!
1. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
While there has been some debate as to whether Salinger’s novel is technically a YA Book or not, it certainly conveys teenage angst through the portrayal of the angsty-est teen in the literary universe, Holden Caulfield. Caulfield’s obsession with acknowledging the “phony” nature of his peers along with his rejection of conformity really captures the issues of identity and fitting in that many teenagers face.
2. The Perks of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Written in an epistolary style, The Perks of Being A Wallflower captures the social isolation felt by teenagers who can’t find their footing on the high school social ladder. From the hidden traumas that hold teenagers back from progressing to the inability to be whom everyone else wants them to be (while marinating their true self-image), this book is a must-read to understand teenage angst.
3. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
Hinton’s book The Outsiders has been celebrated for decades for its ability to convey the quintessential fight teenagers face. From fighting to maintain their identity in a community that prides conformity, to fighting to survive the social and economical strongholds in their culture, to fighting to protect those closest to them, to fighting against the negative voice in their heads that tries to hold them down, The Outsiders shows the external and internal struggles so many teens face.
4. 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher
With the success of Netflix’s adaptation of 13 Reasons Why, now is better than ever to read the book that started it all. Jay Asher’s haunting tale of depression, suicide, and the world left over is a must-read for those wishing to understand what could possibly drive someone, especially a young adult, to suicide. Moreover Asher’s ability to sensitively yet realistically portray the influential realities of high school including bullying, ostracism, peer pressure, and sexual assault makes 13 Reasons Why a must-read.
5. Looking for Alaska by John Green
John Green’s award-winning book captures the desire many teenagers have of chasing the thrills of life and to stop holding back. Of course, living to the fullest often comes with strings attatched as Green’s protagonist soon learns after encountering an alluring new girl who promises to fulfill the excitement he seeks – while also, unbeknownst to him, will be his downfall. The complexity of love, gain, and loss which teens face is perfectly depicted in Looking for Alaska.
6. Go Ask Alice by Anonymous (Beatrice Sparks)
Though the authorship has seen controversy since its release, Go Ask Alice has often been cited as one of the most influential YA books in history. With it’s powerful recollection of teenage drug use coupled with an anonymous narrator, Go Ask Alice manages to depict relatable teenage issues that every reader can relate to and is so believable that readers can easily see themselves as “Alice.”
7. Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
Fitting in is the goal many of us have in order to achieve acceptance, friendship, and a place for ourselves. unfortunately, fitting is often a synonym for conformity. High School (or life in general, to be honest) is a place where ecocentrism and individualism is often looked down upon. In Stargirl, Jerry Spinelli captures a haunting journey of achieving what you desire while trying to reject conformity and stay true to yourself.
8. Crank by Ellen Hopkins
I read this for the first time in the eighth grade and let me tell you, it blew me away. Ellen Hopkins is the master of teenage angst, using her unique and poetic writing style to depict the complexity of teenage sexuality, peer pressure, body image, drug use, trauma, dysfunctional family relations, and more. Crank introduces readers to Kristina, a character inspired by Hopkins’ real-life daughter, whose life is turned upside down when peer pressure leads to a drug addiction. Crank‘s ability to challenge the way we think about addicts by humanizing a teenage drug user, creating a character whom readers can empathize with, makes this a must-read.
9. The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros
Sandra Cisneros’ lyrical yet emotional vignettes provides eye-opening glimpses into self-discovery and sexual maturity. With her portrayal of a young Latina who fantasizes about escaping her poverty-stricken neighborhood and achieving freedom from the oppressive social and cultural forces that are ingrained in her, Cisneros captures the desire for freedom and escape that plaques young adults who are figuring out who they are and what they want (and deserve).
10. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Sherman Alexie is a writer most known for his examination of race and role in one’s culture. He honors his writing style in The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, in which he’s depiction of a young Native American teen who leaves his reservation for a mostly all-white school raises the question of how one can own up to who they are while rejecting the negative cultural stereotypes and expectations assigned to them. Alexie’s book is a must-read for anyone who has struggled with their identity and to those who never had to who could benefit from understanding the struggles of others.
Featured Image Via Unsplash/Aziz Acharki. All In-Text Images Via Amazon.
Stephen Chbosky’s YA novel The Perks of Being a Wallflower, published in 1999, is a New York Times bestseller and a book beloved by angsty teens the world over. Its 2012 movie adaptation starring Logan Lerman, Emma Watson, and Ezra Miller was also a huge hit. Though Chbosky’s book is generally accepted as a classic of the genre, some internet people are not so sure.
Caitlin, for example, took the time to inform the good people of Amazon that she burnt the book in her fireplace.
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