Book: The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Artist: Hahna Curtin
Artist’s Statement: I chose to do a piece on Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower because it is my earliest memory of a banned book. I was ten years old when schools in my hometown, Oconomowoc, WI, started banning it. My local public library responded to the banning by ordering fifteen copies of it and prominently displaying it in their YA section. Their defiant act stuck with me and I was very proud of my library.
I wanted my entry to be an interior portrait of the novel’s main character, Charlie—capturing not just his body but the landscape of his mind and mood. I imagine Charlie to be underweight, fragile, and withdrawn even in the private universe of his mind. The vinyl record provides a soothing lulla-by of The Smiths’ “Asleep,” which is discussed in the novel and I think is one of the saddest and most comforting songs ever written. The lipstick kiss on his cheek represents his consensual relationship with Sam and the one on his shoulder the sexual abuse he endured as a child. The piece is populated by some of the things which made adult readers want to ban it: pot, alcohol, a boa from Rocky Horror, and teenage sexuality. The daisy represents the thing that I believe really disturbed those who wanted to ban the book: the fact that there is beauty and truth in these turbulent teenage experiences.