The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

via Goodreads

via Goodreads

Rated it: 5 stars           Recommends it to: Young adults, about 13-14 and up I suppose  Contains: Mild explicit scenes.

Goodreads blurb

And while he’s not the biggest geek in the school, he is by no means popular. Shy, introspective, intelligent beyond his year 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 mix 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 he can’t stay on the sidelines 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.

My review

Charlie. He is, to slap a label on, this introvert that I believe gives me an inside look on how some introverts think. He really gives a lot to the details that I would fling over my shoulder because of the irrelevance of it at that given moment. Charlie makes me see how much there is to a simple action, a simple inaction, how much there is to see at family gatherings during holidays and when you think about it sometimes you wonder why you weren’t in some daytime television drama series. There is so much in everything that it amazing till it hurts your head.

This fifteen year old boy showed me the importance of friends, from his perspective of not having any to knowing Sam and Patrick, and then temporarily losing them, of what it felt like after. Since I was there all the while I see the contrast clearly and I feel sad for him. I sigh at writing that last sentence because I mentioned for the first time that this book made me feel, all books do this of course but this one touches a part of me that needs a particular kind of contact more often. The characters, I feel that Chbosky has done a good job at capturing the bits and pieces of these teenagers, they feel very real to me.

This book approaches the topics of early smoking (legal and otherwise), about young relationships, abusive ones, healthy ones it touches briefly on abortion. They all meld in the story line so well I wonder if the author himself lived parts of Charlie’s life that gives it this authentic feel to it, or maybe it’s just good writing skills. I laughed and I cried, I cheered on and a cussed. I kicked myself mentally a few times when he mentioned he read some books that I passed on like Catcher in the Rye, The Great Gatsby, To Kill a Mockingbird, to name a few. I will attempt at least one of them, I’ll try.

Don’t get me started on the mixed tapes, I marked the pages of a list of songs to check out. I hope to feel ‘infinite’ too but I doubt I will now, there are special times for feeling like that when they do come they take us unaware and the moment we realized what we were feeling it will be unlike anything we’ve ever felt and unlike anything we’ll ever experience.

There were times where I said ‘Oh my gosh, I felt that way too’ or ‘I’ve wondered about that’. I really liked the simple prose, it set the tone for me, at the same time it made reading interesting. My most favourite theme was friendship, how important it was to have a place among like minded people and I liked the fact that even when Charlie was a few years their junior Sam and Patrick aka ‘Nothing’, who were step sister and step brother, they welcomed him, this weird loner, the ‘freak’ and they found something genuine between them.

There were laugh out loud moments, there were tear jerking ones and there was this one time Charlie stood up for a friend that had me punching the air, and immediately cracking up when I could clearly see the unhidden surprise of the kids in the cafeteria. Anyone can stand up to a bully, for themselves and for others. I just wish I could find a physical copy to put on my shelf.

Charlie hardly knew the person to whom he was writing to but apparently he believed in him or her enough to send glimpses of his life to. I don’t know but I hoped that in writing, it helped him in some way. But think about it carefully, how many Charlies have you happened to know? How many do you suppose you’ve passed in the hallway and never gave a thought to, perhaps you might have called him or her a ‘freak’ or ‘weirdo’ but they have a life too and God knows what they must be going through, maybe you haven’t assigned those names to them, I wouldn’t know.

Were you someone’s Sam or Patrick like they were to Charlie? Are you a ‘Charlie’? Think about it. The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a brilliant coming of age tale about love, friendship, hurt and getting up and moving on and I loved it. (Emma Watson and Erza Miller’s in the movie adaptation (released last year)! Eeek! I want to see what the actor playing the part of Charlie (Logan Lerman) is like. Can’t wait to watch it.)

P.S: After reading this and watching the trailer, I badly want a typewriter!


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Filed under Books, Fiction, Mad Reviewer Reading Challenge, Young Adult

9 responses to “The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

  1. Great review–it piqued my curiosity about the book. Thanks!

  2. Reblogged this on My Day Out With An Angel and commented:
    Good one

  3. You speak about the book very elegantly and make me want to seriously consider rereading it. I read it about a month before the movie came out and I didn’t enjoy it much even though I don’t have any particular reason why. Perhaps I was in a really bad mood back then. But as I read through your review and the values you say the book focuses on, I was like, “Why didn’t I see it that way?” I usually notice this kind of thing –themes, especially friendship, and whatnot– but not this time. I suppose I did need something as thoughtful and organised as this review to push me to give it another shot.

    Little question! Have you watched the movie?

    • Give it another chance! There have been books I’ve read and feel the same way, the second time around will make all the difference. Thank you, especially for describing this as an ‘elegant’ review though I wouldn’t have thought to call it that 🙂 and for coming by! Nope, not yet, did you like it?

      • You know when you want to like a book but you just can’t? That’s me with Perks. So hopefully a reread will get me there. AND YES! The movie is quite lovely! All movies based on books should be directed by said books’ authors so they’d be as beautiful as this one!

      • I know that feeling only too well, a Hemingway novel cones to mind. Yay! I want so badly to see it, and soon I will. I absolutely agree, the authors are the ones with the vision on how it supposed to be, Stephen looks like he did an awesome job at it. J. K. Rowling frequently visited the sets of the HP movies so I think even that was significant to the films’ success.

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