Title: The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Author: Stephen Chbosky
Publication date: February 2, 1999 (first published 1999)
Publisher: Pocket Books
Genre/themes: Young Adult, Realistic Fiction, LGBT, Coming of Age, Contemporary, Romance
Source: Borrowed from my sister
Series?: No, this book is a standalone
“I walk around the school hallways and look at the people. I look at the teachers and wonder why they’re here. Not in a mean way. In a curious way. It’s like looking at all the students and wondering who’s had their heart broken that day…or wondering who did the heart breaking and wondering why.”
Charlie is a freshman. And while he’s not the biggest geek in the school, he is by no means popular. Shy, introspective, intelligent beyond his years yet socially awkward, he is a wallflower, caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it. Charlie is attempting to navigate his way through uncharted territory: the world of first dates and mixed tapes, family dramas and new friends; the world of sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, when all one requires is that perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite. But Charlie can’t stay on the sideline forever. Standing on the fringes of life offers a unique perspective. But there comes a time to see what it looks like from the dance floor.
Charlie is a wallflower. He does not participate in life. He has been like that ever since his Aunt died. He is the boy on the sidelines. Then one day he just decided to walk up to Patrick and Sam. The three of them become the most beautiful friends. That part of the book I really liked. Charlie cares deeply for his friends, especially Sam, whom he is (not so secretly) crushing on. Their relationship is natural. They are there for each other when they need to be but know when to give space as well. Charlie finally learns that there is more to life that just being
That is the mean message I got from this book. There is just so much more to life that going with the flow and doing what is expected of you. By deciding your own direction, so many beautiful things can happen. Bit by bit, Charlie blossoms and becomes his own person. There is, however, always a little something that holds him back. The moment he reached complete happiness, there is always the fall. Then he goes to a place where no one can reach him. For me this is where the trouble started. I just can’t understand why exactly he does not allow himself to be happy. It might be somewhere in the book, somewhere between the lines and I just didn’t catch it but still, there was no ‘ahah’ moment at the end of the book. No big reveal which would clear up some of the unexplained thing.
This book is in letter form, letters Charlie has been writing to an anonymous friend. This friend never writes back (at least not that I know of) and it never becomes clear who this person actually is. I find it kind of weird that Charlie pours his heart out to this stranger by writing letter after letter, but I seems to help him. I really wanted to know who this person was. It think that hints to the bigger problem I have with this book. There were just too many mysteries left to solve and I don’t like when books do that.
I also found it a bit unrealistic that all of his friends were so much older than him (15 versus 18). I know I doesn’t seem a lot now, but certainly in High School there is a big difference in maturity. I do believe that Charlie was mature enough to be Sam and Patrick’s friend. I do however, not think that he would be so readily accepted by seniors. Especially because he is really shy and awkward at times. That makes Charlie a really likeable person and Sam and Patrick very good friends but it’s a friendship that only happens to one in a million. Which could of course make it all the more beautiful ;)!
The reason I give this book 3 stars is because I really, really like the friendship part. It left me with too many questions to really be satisfied when I was done. And despite liking Charlie a lot, it just couldn’t get swept away. Despite it being only a 230 page book, it took me 4 days to read. Normally I would blaze through in 2 days max. I haven’t seen the movie yet, so that is next on my to do list. I hope things get a little clearer then.