Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Stephen Chbosky
213 pages
Publisher: MTV Books
Source: library

You can read the Goodreads summary here.

This was one of those YA classics that in the back of my mind I knew I had to read someday.  So what made me finally read it?  This:

(image via Google)
It's being made into a movie starring Emma Watson!  Yay!

So I picked it up from the library and got reading.  The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a group of letters written by Charlie, a high school freshman, to some person we will never know the identity of.  The letters contain day to day ramblings of what's going on in Charlie's life, including his unrequited love for the girl of his dreams, but ultimately he's writing because "I just need to now that someone out there listens and understands and doesn't try to sleep with people even if they could have.  I need to know these people exist." (p. 2)

Have you ever read Catcher in the Rye?  I didn't read it in high school but I read it last year because it came highly recommended by my husband as the best coming of age novel ever.  The Perks of Being a Wallflower is this generations (or last generations? It was published in 1999) Catcher in the Rye.  I found the two books pretty similar, although Perks is decidedly more modern.

What really struck me was how Charlie changed over the course of the novel.  When the novel started he's moving from middle school to high school and seems very innocent, but as the book continues on it becomes apparent Charlie is willing to drop the innocence... sort of.  He takes LSD, for example, and that's pretty much the opposite of innocent, but at the same time he his letters seem so pure.  He also struggled with his mental illness and by the end of the novel we come to learn what really happened.

But there were parts of Charlie I whole-heartedly adored, most notably his ability to stand back, take things in and make great observations about people (hence his being a wallflower).  Charlie seemed pretty realistic, even if he was something an enigma.

Ultimately, I give the book three stars.  I liked it, but I didn't fall in love with it because it was so much like Catcher in the Rye.  But I still highly recommend you read it because you should always read a book before you see the movie and Emma Watson is so charming, so you know you're going to want to see it!

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