"The Perks of Being a Wallflower"

The Perks of Being A Wallflower

I’m not sure there are any - perks that is - but it was a good book nevertheless. I didn’t really begin to get into it till about a third of the way through, but the main character, Charlie, intrigued me so I kept going. Really it was a fight to even begin it. It’s a YA novel, a coming-of-age thing so there’s a lot of angst and high school stuff and sexual awakening. The truth is I find that all a bit tedious now - there’s just so much of it in books, on tv and in movies - and I would never have chosen this book for myself, but a couple of friends at book club put it in my hands and said I should read it. I trust them, so I did.

I liked it. I still didn’t enjoy all of that stuff - I think my own high school experience was more than enough for me - but Charlie is a fascinating character. He has no idea what’s wrong with him, but he knows there’s something. He doesn’t react to things the way other people do. He feels things differently. He is detached and sometimes feels that he isn’t there at all. He’s highly intelligent, well mannered and lovable in a quirky, Sheldon Cooper kind of way, but there’s something wrong somewhere. Life doesn’t feel good to him. He’s different in a way he doesn’t understand.

The book is written in letters, all to “Dear Friend” and signed “Love always, Charlie”. He writes letters because he believes them to be more real than a journal. He does share the very personal changes in his life, but the book is written with restraint and is never salacious, in my opinion. Your opinion may differ.

The “Dear Friend” he writes to is someone he chose because another friend (we don’t know who, other than it’s a girl) said he listened and was trustworthy, but he makes it clear that names and details are changed to maintain his anonymity. He doesn’t want the recipient to ever know who was writing to him. We never learn the identity of the “dear friend” but that doesn’t matter because it feels like Charlie is talking to you, the reader, the entire time.  He gets to you, this boy who quietly carries more pain than any child should have to.

It was interesting to learn that the author, Stephen Chbosky, wrote the screenplay for the movie “Rent” and was executive producer of the tv show, Jericho. He obviously knows how to tell a story. This is his first novel.   


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