The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Well, it’s been a while since I’ve posted here on Knight Reader, and I’m sorry about that, but many of you know at least some of the reasons why. I won’t go into all of that here, but I’m hopeful that things have taken a turn and that my reading (and blogging) will get back on track.

One of the books that’s been helping me get through some tough times is one that I’ve been meaning to read for a while but just never got around to. That book is The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. I know I’m late to the party when it comes to this book, but it just seemed like I needed to read this book right now. (For those who care to know, this book was originally published in 1999. I like to think I would have devoured this book if it had been released when I was in high school. Alas, that was not the case.) I guess reading about someone else’s issues made it a little easier to deal with my own.

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Stephen Chbosky’s moving tale of Charlie–told in letters to someone only known as “Dear Friend”–give readers a glimpse into what life is like for this rather troubled young man who is starting his freshman year in high school in 1991. (I started high school in ’93, so the time setting was rather familiar to me.) Charlie starts off the year friendless, but he soon grows close to a couple of people who will change his life forever. Patrick and Sam, a couple of seniors who happen to be brother and sister, kind of take in Charlie as one of their own. Charlie finally belongs somewhere, but he is still dealing with a bit of darkness within himself…and he’s learning more about his friends and life itself.

Patrick, Sam, and their group of friends value Charlie for his ability to take in the things around him without judging anyone. They call this being a “wallflower.” Charlie simple calls it finally being part of something.

As the year progresses, Charlie, Patrick, and Sam experience the highest of highs (often quite literally) and the lowest of lows. Charlie even comes to grips with something that happened as a child that, even without him knowing, has had a huge impact on his relationships with others. All throughout this tumultuous year, Charlie learns more about himself, his family, his friends, and what it means to really “participate” in the world around him. Even he can’t go through life constantly being a wallflower.

I can’t say enough good things about this book. Fans of John Green will adore this book (if they already don’t). I wish this book had been around when I was in high school. Maybe then I would have felt like I wasn’t so alone when most of my friends went off to college and left me behind. (Most of my closest friends were two years older than me.)

The Perks of Being a Wallflower provides a rather frank look at a year in the life of one teenager who is dealing with some major issues and trying to figure out who he really is. As such, there is some swearing, sex, drugs, a lot of (pretty awesome) rock and roll, drinking, homosexuality, smoking, and dealing with situations that no one–child or adult–should ever have to face. This is not a book for the weak-minded. The literary allusions alone are enough to make this book one to take seriously. (How many YA novels introduce readers to novels like The Fountainhead? Really?) Some teens will be able to handle this book. Some won’t. The same is true for adults.

I look forward to finally seeing the movie adaptation of this fantastic book. I just hope it does justice to its amazing source material.

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2 comments on “The Perks of Being a Wallflower

  1. charlotte b. says:

    I don’t know if it was because I loved the book so much, but the movie adaptation was kind of disappointing for me. I couldn’t empathize with the characters as much as I did in the book.

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