“Why do nice people choose the wrong people to date?
Are we talking about anyone specific?
We accept the love we think we deserve.
Can we make them know they deserve more?
We can try.”
–Stephen Chbosky The Perks of Being a Wallflower
I recently paid homage to one of my favorite new(ish) young adult literature novels at the wedding of my husband and I. I, obviously, am a sucker for good, emotional quotes. Ever since I read The Perks of Being a Wallflower, I have had a really difficult time clearing the novel from my mind. So many of the words resonate deeply within me. Therefore, I find myself returning to what I really feel is a true representation of art. The writing is brilliant and the themes, unfortunately, ring so true with the teens of this day and age. Authors JK Rowling and John Green have such marvelous and uncanny abilities to relate to the mindset of young adults, tying in difficult and relevant themes that not only allow for great entertainment but also lends clarity for young minds struggling with adolescence and who are diving deeply into their literature.
Stephen Chbosky has this same rich ability. Chbosky develops characters that are real and transparent. Characters that foster the same personas as friends I could have had in high school. Personally my favorite is not even “technically” considered a main character, but he is simple and honest. His transparency allows for a slight flicker of hope to be placed into Charlie, a freshman in high school attempting to overcome an arduous inner struggle. Mr. Anderson, Bill, never becomes more than Mr. Anderson. He simply is a compassionate teacher who gives out good books and good advice. This compassion and simplicity leaves a meaningful legacy onto Charlie that I crave in teaching.
As romanticized of a teacher Mr. Anderson is in The Perks of Being a Wallflower, I truly hope that one day I will have such a meaningful and intense impact on one of my student’s lives as he had with Charlie.
Just one student.
I think this profoundness is what drives me deeper into my passion for students. I am not saying I am trying to be a lifesaver, to vastly alter the paths that some troubled students are walking along, or to be some sort of life-long influence in the future of a student. I simply want to exist as a constant positive in a student’s life, and sometimes give out novels that left a lasting effect on me to students that seem in need of some extra care.
I know I cannot force my students to love literature as much as I do.
I know I cannot force students to have such life altering experiences from novels as I have had.
But as a teacher-and simply a caring teacher- I hope I can be a ray of hope in some student’s life, even if I never know the influence I had on anyone. All I can ever hope for is my wisdom, compassion, or advice to live on as my legacy.
Until next time,