To Kill a Mockingbird
By Harper Lee
You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.
“Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit ’em, but remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.”
A lawyer’s advice to his children as he defends the real mockingbird of Harper Lee’s classic novel—a black man charged with the rape of a white girl. Through the young eyes of Scout and Jem Finch, Harper Lee explores with rich humor and unswerving honesty the irrationality of adult attitudes toward race and class in the Deep South of the 1930s. The conscience of a town steeped in prejudice, violence, and hypocrisy is pricked by the stamina and quiet heroism of one man’s struggle for justice—but the weight of history will only tolerate so much.
Why it was challenged/banned: According to the American Library Association, the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel was banned for language/profanity, racial themes, conflict with community views, and adult themes.
Why it is important: To Kill a Mockingbird is my absolute favorite classic book. I first read it when I was fourteen after my mother bought it for me and then again in high school and truly marveled at its simultaneous motif of the childhood innocence and the cruelty of man. Reading the book through Scout’s eyes helped me to better understand the world around me as well as some of the darker aspects of my country’s history.
Despite some of the aforementioned complaints lodged against the book I feel To Kill a Mockingbird was a strong advocate for equality and acceptance. While a large number of characters were indeed bigots, Scout, her family, and a few others, were depicted as thoughtful, honest, and kind. Harper tackles a number of harsh themes, many of which I recognized, even at a young age, as serious real-world issues. What makes this book eye-opening to the modern reader is that these “old” issues are, unfortunately, still prevalent today.
To Kill a Mockingbird a rich and thought-provoking novel that truly earned its status as a classic.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower
By Stephen Chbosky
And in that moment, I swear we were infinite.
The critically acclaimed debut novel from Stephen Chbosky, Perks follows observant “wallflower” Charlie as he charts a course through the strange world between adolescence and adulthood. First dates, family drama, and new friends. Sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Devastating loss, young love, and life on the fringes. Caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it, Charlie must learn to navigate those wild and poignant roller-coaster days known as growing up.
Why it was challenged/banned: Drug/alcohol/cigarette use, homosexuality, language/profanity, sexual themes, and themes of abuse. Considered unsuited for age group.
Why it is important: The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a poignant tale of a young man named Charlie and the turbulent thoughts and feelings that can affect one during high school. It is a story of friendship, love, and loss. Chbosky’s beautiful novel was recommended to me by one of my best friends in high school and it is, like To Kill a Mockingbird, one of my favorite books of all time. I have reread it multiple times and have always found something new that has resonated within me.
In writing The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Chboksy created an anthem for adolescents: anyone who has ever felt that they weren’t deserving of friendship or love; anyone who has ever felt left out because they were insignificant or different; anyone who has felt the sting of loss and the complicated doubts and feelings that stem from it. It provides reassurance that we’re all a little weird and different but that we are all significant and, in Charlie’s words, infinite. Perks helped me to understand that we are, separately and all together, a perfectly flawed part of a beautiful life.
A cult classic, The Perks of Being a Wallflower has something that everyone can relate to. You need only to open the book and you will see inside yourself.