I can totally understand why this book would be repeatedly challenged by the people who want to ban books. Personally, I think we should never ban books; if you’re worried about the content ‘corrupting’ your children, then sit down with them and discuss the content as they’re reading it. In this case, the story deals with high school students drinking, smoking, and doing drugs, in addition to containing some quote-unquote ‘adult themes’.
I sometimes wonder if people who want to ban books want to imagine that no high school students drink or smoke or do drugs, and that these authors are just demented or troubled people trying to be a bad influence on their precious children. It’s certainly an inescapable truth, though, that high school kids do all those things – not all kids, certainly, but enough of them for it to be a commonly-encountered thing in high school. And what YA is really good for is discussing the hard truths of being alive at the moment when kids are starting to figure out that it’s a question worth contemplating.
Charlie’s struggle to ‘participate’ in his own life is something that a lot of kids will identify with and be able to understand, and his journey might give them some context or some hope on that front. It’s definitely a book worth reading. Also, on an unrelated note, I really loved that it’s written in ‘epistolary’ format, with the entire narrative told through letters written by Charlie to a ‘Dear Friend.’ It creates just enough ambiguity to enhance the worrisome tone of certain parts, and while not exactly unreliable, the narrator is definitely less than impartial.