by Stephen Chbosky
Published 1999 by MTV Books
213 pages. Paperback
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Young Adult
The Perks of Being a Wallflower has been at the top of my favorites list for years. I read it as a junior in high school and I fell totally in love with it. I’ve been awaiting the movie since I first heard about it years ago. This book is so special and personal to me that I’ve never even attempted putting my thoughts down, but I think it’s time to try.
Charlie is a complicated character to me in that I will always love him, but I am often frustrated with him. It’s sometimes really easy for me to relate to him and sometimes really difficult for me to relate to him. He’s introspective, which I get. He’s also completely clueless sometimes, which is something I don’t get. My relation to Charlie as a teenager was more about how Charlie thinks than his experiences. There were a lot of things he did that I didn’t try until years later, and there were some things that Charlie didn’t do or understand that I had already experienced. What drew me to him then and makes me continue to love him now are those moments when I felt completely connected to him. When I was a teenager I just connected and soaked it all in. This time around I enjoyed watching Charlie grow. I wish I could say more about the other characters in the book, but what is there to say? They’re all amazing and real, but Charlie definitely speaks to me the most.
This is definitely a character-focused story. It mostly deals with Charlie’s coming-of-age, but there are also some plot points that make you stop and think or turn things in another direction. The ending is the part that always slays me. It hits really close to home. I cried like a baby the first time I read it. It’s funny because I remember being so angry at Charlie’s attitude about the whole thing at the end. This time around, having dealt with my feelings about my own experience, I understood that a lot better. It’s funny how things can be read differently when we’re in different places in our lives.
I had to glance over my review questions to get my thoughts flowing for this review and one stood out to me. “Has this novel changed me?” This book has probably changed me and shaped who I am more than any book I’ve ever read. I know that sounds a little trite, but it’s true. I think there are things I would never have dealt with in my own life had I not read about Charlie dealing with them. I cannot wait to see this movie next weekend.