Occasional YA Book Club: The Perks of Being a Wallflower Discussion Questions
Hey everyone! So we’re still talking about our Occasional YA Book Club pick, The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. Last week got a little crazy, so we decided to move the discussion into this week – we want to give this book the time it deserves!
Today we are featuring two written discussion questions about this awesome book and Nancy and Sarah give you their answers!
Talk about the mix tapes in the story. Are you familiar with the songs and bands? Why do you think Charlie speaks about them so often?
Nancy: I was familiar with almost all of the songs and bands in Charlie’s mix tapes (hey, I’d just graduated from college when this book came out!). I think Charlie uses them to express his feelings to his friends, especially when he can’t say how he feels. The B side of the “Winter” tape he made for Patrick was full of beautiful, melancholy music meant to comfort him when he felt sad.
Sarah: I love the mixtapes as creating a mixtape essentially is a labor of love to share your feelings (and favorite bands) with your friends. I think they reflect Charlie’s thoughtful “wallflower” nature as he can assign meaning to each song and take time crafting them for others or appreciating them for their composition. Plus-it makes a great deal of sense when he turns DJ at the end of the book because of his earlier references to music. Finally, I think the love of music also helps connect Charlie with other teen readers since music is so much of a teen’s life-even as Charlie isn’t always a typical teen.
Do you like that the story is told through letters? Do you feel you know the kind of person Charlie is? His friends and family?
Nancy: I think that the letter device works, even though I was curious as to who the “friend” was; we only know that he/she did not sleep with someone at a party, “even though you could have.” But the anonymous friend fades into the background after a while, and we feel like he is writing to us, the reader. While Charlie shares a lot about what’s going on and his external reactions, he rarely delves deep into his feelings. He reports his crying as if he were telling us he sneezed, in a detached but honest way. His observations of his friends are similar, but his descriptions of their facial expressions and actions tells us volumes about them and their personalities.
Sarah: I like that Charlie’s story is told through letters because he is such a quiet person, that I could not see him telling his story to someone aloud, but easy to see him tell his story on paper. Again, his writing shows his sensitive side as well as his desperation to get his feelings out-even if he can’t really figure out why he needs to until the end of the story. I keep thinking about how deceptively simple his writing is-yet we do get such a clear picture of his friends and family and the story is told in a straightforward manner, yet eloquently done.
How would you answer these questions? Let us know your answers in the comments section!