This month we read The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. It’s one of mine and Sarah’s favourite books and I feel like a lot of our friendship has ties to it. We have both read it more than once before we chose it for Book Club but had never read it to focus on the aspects of sexuality specifically.
Everyone who had read it gave it 5/5 stars! We all had quite a bit of nostalgia for the book and wondered if we would rate it the same if we had read it for the first time now. As teenagers when we initially read it, we all identified with it a lot. I haven’t experienced half of what Charlie has but I still relate to a lot of what happens and how he feels.
In terms of sexuality, this is a really interesting read. It’s set in the 1980s yet has more acceptance within a fairly large group of friends than many books set in the 2000s/2010s. It has many comments that are very obvious it is set a little in the past but it is really relatable even if you didn’t grow up in that era.
The two main gay characters are Patrick, one of Charlie’s best friends, and Brad, a closeted jock. Patrick is very openly gay and is bullied at school by some. Brad is scared of coming out and isn’t okay with himself or comfortable around his friends. It’s a great look at how things aren’t easy but also how sometimes there are good times. Patrick is completely, unconditionally accepted by those close to him.
Although the book handles really difficult topics, we all find it a fairly easy read. Some of it hits hard but overall it’s not too difficult – we agreed that felt like it was to do with the narration style.
We all love the fact that the characters are all multifaceted and imperfect – the friendship group go through a lot together and support each other even through issues that are pretty huge. They never even think of outing Brad after everything he does to Patrick because they have respect his identity even if they dont like him. It’s such a great bunch of friends.
We’ve all seen the film too and said about how GREAT the soundtrack is. I remember seeing the film and discovering so many new songs and artists because of it.
Through June, we are going to be reading Birthday by Meredith Russo. We are running this session in conjunction with publisher and have some treats for everyone who is coming! It will take place on Thursday 27 June, 7pm at Chapter One Books in Manchester.