I have just read “The Perks Of Being A Wallflower” by Stephen Chbosky.
I have meant to read it for ages and only just got around to it because i happened to see the trailer for the film adaptation and thought it sounded interesting.
The blurb reads:
“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.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a deeply affecting coming-of-age story that will spirit you back to those wild and poignant roller-coaster days known as growing up.”
The style of writing takes a little while to get used to, and especially as it is composed of many letters written in a diary entry format, but it is engrossing and full of detail. It keeps you hooked all the way through.
Charlie is the youngest in his family and maybe feels more pressure with an older brother and sister, but he doesn’t seem to realise just how intelligent he is, even when his English teacher keeps getting him to read extra books and setting him essays to write about what he’s read. Not many people would happily and unquestioningly do extra essays! However, the weird thing is that he asks about a million questions about everything else!
Charlie has spent a lot of his life watching others and trying to work out how best to do things, but he never really does anything. He sees things, he listens, he thinks a lot about things, and somehow he manages to get things wrong and make mistakes. He is a very emotional boy, crying quite often about all sorts of things. This seems odd when it is a 15/16 year old teenager. He talks a lot about his family, especially his deceased aunt Helen, who seems to be at the centre of his problems. He gets very sad on his birthday which is the same day his aunt died and seems to blame himself for her death even though it wasn’t his fault. His sudden mood dips show that he suffers from depression, which is often common in shy people and especially more so in those who think too much about things.
When he meets Sam and Patrick, he find two great people who understand him a bit more than most people and help him to figure out himself and others more easily. They become his best friends, even though they are a bit older than him, and they are a mixture of being a good influence and a bad influence on him. He starts smoking, kisses boys and girls, has sexual experiences, fights and defends people, but also he learns to relax a bit more and live his life, even while keeping his grades at a high level. Sam and Patrick introduce him to a whole different world, which has it’s ups and downs, but even his family starts to change as they all get older and he starts to understand how they feel as well.
I loved this book and so i’m giving it 10/10 because it felt familiar and unfamiliar at the same time, and i remembered feeling and thinking the same things as Charlie at points in my life. The depression and confusion underneath everything is just part of being shy and trying to work out who you are and why you are different, and really shows the reader how difficult it is growing up and having so many issues to work through. I felt quite emotional reading it as well! Worth a read if you haven’t tried it, i wish i had read it sooner!