Author: Stephen Chbosky
Genre: YA Contemporary
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Released: 1 February 1999
Charlie is a freshman.
And while he's not the biggest geek in the school, he is by no means popular. Shy, introspective, intelligent beyond his years 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 word of first dates and mixed 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 sideline forever. Standing on the fringes of all 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.
I am probably literally one of the last people to read this book. And to be honest, I'm really only reading it because I saw and loved the movie, which in reality I only watched because Emma Watson was in it. So, I have to thank Emma for introducing me to this amazing book!
The premise is really sweat - a 16 year old boy who struggles through the world of high school and the turbulence of being a teenager. We can all relate - in all seriousness, how many people actually have a smooth time during their teens?
Through Charlie, we get to know these amazing characters, all who have their own problems and issues that people can relate to and learn from. There is someone in this book that you will definitely see yourself in, whether it be Charlie, his friends, or his family - you will find someone who you can relate to and form a connection with.
The touching aspect of this book is how Chbosky draws you into the story. Personally, I see two ways in which the reader becomes part of the story. The first is that, through reading Charlie's letters, you begin to embody Charlie as you read about his experiences. The second is that, through reading the letters also, you become the friend that Charlie is writing to, the friend who he can trust to write all these letters to because "you listen and understand." You care about Charlie and his life, and you desperately want to know what happens to this fictional boy who is writing letters to you - you become a part of the story. [I have to admit that I did shed a few tears near the end of the book.]
Pros: No matter who you are - whether you are a teenager just beginning to navigate the world of high school, or an adult who has survived these years - you will enjoy and find a connection with this book, and take something away from it.
Cons: Personally, I don't see many downfalls to this novel. However, there are aspects of the book (rape, molestation, suicide, depression and mental anxiety) that are dark and heavy, so readers should be warned that these topics do arise in the book. I would not recommend people under the age of 15-16 reading this.
Overall, I highly recommend that people read this book if they haven't already, or pick it up and read it again. It is a very touching story that proves you can make it through the tough teenage years, and that you shouldn't give up when life gets you down.
And don't just rely on the movie to tell you Charlie's story, live his story through the book, because you will develop a much deeper connection to the characters, and take away so much more.