Every other Thursday, a coterie made up of several of our older students from Culver City, Inglewood, Mar Vista, and Venice comes together to discuss, rant, and rave under the auspices of SPINE. We’ve been thrilled over the last year to see SPINE, our first regular book club for teen fiction, pick up a new book each month: John Green’s Looking for Alaska, Carrie Ryan’s The Forest of Hands and Teeth, and Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games, among others. Some particularly generous donations (thanks, volunteer Chris Heiser!) have given us the resources to make sure that every student can keep the novels they choose as monthly SPINE selections in their growing personal libraries when the reading is through.
After reading the insanely-popular young adult classic The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky over the summer, we dug our heads out of our books long enough to log onto our computer browsers and discover that the novel we had just read was being made into an independent motion picture in September!
The entire club was allowed to take a weekend outing to one of our local beachside theaters to see The Perks of Being a Wallflower (starring Logan Lerman and Emma Watson, and directed by Stephen Chbosky himself) at no cost. It’s not the first time we’ve been able to provide our most dedicated readers, either in SPINE or elsewhere, with special treats. No, we’ve never been ones to call the movie version better than the book version. But the more our kids are consuming stories (including film adaptations of the books they love), the more conversant they’ll be in the language and culture of fiction. And that means that we could, if things work out, be preparing our SPINE kids to be people of letters for their entire future lives.
Freshman SPINE member Chelsea Ramírez, one of our favorite bibliophiles out here on the Westside, is currently working on contributions to SPINE’s second edition of a ‘zine-like literary anthology. Writing back to the 826LA community after The Perks of Being a Wallflower, she probably summed up what’s happening here pretty well: “I was able to see my favorite book on the big screen. The Perks of Being a Wallflower is my all-time favorite book because Charlie’s feelings, thoughts and mentality [are ones] I have gone through before … I’m very much like Charlie, the way he is awkward and shy [but] could be headstrong and tough and show a side that he’s never shown to anyone … I really enjoyed this book.”