by Stephen Chbosky
completed September 2012
This book. I don't know if I'll be able to express just how much I love this book. I wasn't really sure I would. I've heard it's easier to appreciate as a teenager, but for me, it worked. In a really big way.
Charlie is a fifteen year old freshman in high school. You'll discover from the opening pages that he's unlike most kids his age. The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a series of letters that he writes to a stranger, trying to keep somewhat anonymous. You never discover to whom he is addressing and mailing these letters, but he shares with them in detail of his experiences throughout his first year of high school.
While I loved this book, I don't think everyone will. Some readers have difficulty with Charlie and his voice. If you don't feel an affinity towards Charlie, I don't think the book will work for you. As I said before, it worked for me. He had me on his team from the first page. I've had the book out from the library for months, but once I finally sat down to read it, I finished it in an afternoon. I couldn't put it down.
I fell in love with Charlie. Not in a romantic way, but in a I-want-to-put-my-arms-around-you-and-hug-you-and-protect-you kind of way. Charlie has this innocence, and it's difficult to pinpoint what is so different about him. I initially thought he may have Asperger's, but some revelations at the end of the book made me think his unique way of looking at the world may have been caused by something he experience when young. Either way, he sees the world so differently than others. Others always come first and he genuinely loves and wants the best for everyone. He feels things so deeply, is so loyal, and honest. He understands so much, but is yet so naïve at the same time. I took so many notes while reading this. Some of Charlie's insights are so simple, yet profound.
So many huge issues are tackled in this slim book. I don't want to get into spoilers, but this goes to very dark places, but through Charlie's eyes, it's bearable. For those who've read it, the struggles of Patrick and Brad were particularly heartbreaking. I was friends with several "Brads" in school who weren't ready to share that aspect of their lives with others until later in life. I still keep in touch with some of them, and it makes my heart ache to think of what they must have gone through in high school. How difficult it must have been.
As I was nearing the end of the book, I was nervous. I didn't know how it would resolve itself, but the epilogue set things right in a realistic way. It left me with a sense of hope.
I've attached the movie trailer below. I think it comes out in the US this month, but the UK release is Oct 3. The trailer seems like the tone isn't quite right. Am I the only one nervous about this? I'm hoping that the actual movie is a better reflection of the book. We shall see.