“We don’t have to go through this alone”: facing trauma through human connection in Alire Sáenz’s “Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe” and Chbosky’s “The Perks of Being a Wallflower”
Munarriz Barandiaran, Jude
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In countries such as the United States, thousands of people have to face traumatic experiences throughout their lives. If we look at the statistics, a portion of that population develops Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder from those experiences, and young adults are no exception among those that have to battle this disorder. Young Adult novels have portrayed these struggling adolescents, but few of these books have delved into the details of the protagonists’ mental health and into how they could overcome their struggles. Two of the books that focus on the mental health of the protagonists are those analyzed in this paper, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe (2012) by Benjamin Alire Sáenz and The Perks of Being a Wallflower (1999) by Stephen Chbosky. This paper aims to prove how the connection with others can foster the facing and the latter overcoming of the trauma of the protagonists of these two coming-of-age Young Adult novels. Besides, this paper will take into account that the healing process of the protagonists will be influenced by other factors such as their sexuality, race or the level of trauma they have endured. The first section of the paper explores the family relationships of the protagonists and shows how those families have contributed to their growth. The second section will deal with the protagonists establishing new friendships and overcoming their loneliness. Finally, the last section will delve into the protagonists’ romantic relationships, which are of vital importance for them to face their traumatic experiences.