Feb 20, 2013
Review: The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER is the unique, touching, and incredibly honest story of a sixteen year named Charlie who is making his way through his freshman year of high school in the late 1990's. It is told through a year long letter-writing correspondence with an unnamed recipient. Though the person Charlie is writing to is not revealed, he undoubtedly has a level of trust in this person.
Charlie is a shy, awkward, but highly intelligent boy, embarking on a chapter of his life that is many things: exciting, scary, confusing, and for people like Charlie, can be very lonely. This is Charlie's remarkable story, told through those letters that gives insight and and hope to the power of friendship and what unconditional love can bring to a person's life.
This coming-of-age debut novel by Stephen Chbosky is one of those books that fills your heart. Charlie is not your typical protagonist. He's not a popular kid with lots of friends and he doesn't play on any high school sports team. He's just Charlie. An incredibly honest, shy kid just trying to make his way though a time in his life that can be daunting for even the most popular kid. It doesn't take long to find out that Charlie isn't your average kid.
I tend to really enjoy epistolary novels so I was all in. These letters seem more like entries in a journal, revealing Charlie's innermost thoughts and feelings. Chbosky did a fantastic job of channeling a teenage boy at one of the most difficult times in life. . There were so many extraordinary experiences for Charlie in this book and they were all beautifully revealed. I especially liked his relationship with his teacher who recognized the level of Charlie's intellect and worked with him to explore it. That was a special relationship that I appreciated. The relationship with his beloved, late Aunt Helen was a brilliant yet shocking layer to the story that I didn't see coming. It knocked me out.
The characters were so genuine and for the most part, likable, but I loved the characters of Sam and Patrick, senior siblings, who befriended Charlie and gave him a sense of belonging and unconditional love that allowed him the security to be himself. Charlie, though, is the one and only star of this story. I will never forget Charlie and I'm sure I will think of him every time I'm around a group of teenagers.
Obviously, this book was a big hit and was made into a major motion picture in 2012. I purposely have not watched the movie because I wanted to read the book first. Now I'm anxious to watch it. I just know I'm going to love it. Check out this trailer to see what I'm talking about.
If you're in a book club, this book would make a fantastic selection. There are so many things to discuss and the conversation would certainly not be dull. If you've read this book, please let me know how you felt about it. For me, it was a creeper. It crept up on me and before I knew what happened, I was hooked. The bottom line is that I thoroughly enjoyed this book and recommend it highly.
THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER
Author: Stephen Chbosky
Original Publisher: MTV
Originally Published: February 1999
Length: 256 pp