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 world of first dates and mix 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 life offers a unique perspective. But there comes a time to see what it looks like from the dance floor.
I finally read it!
The Perks of Being a Wallflower seems to be one of the YA books to read, with a huge following similar to what The Hunger Games, Harry Potter, Twilight, and John Green’s books enjoy.
It’s also contemporary fiction, hence why I was originally uninterested in it – I prefer fantasy or science fiction or humor.
But I did end up enjoying the book – not adoring, just enjoying – so here are my thoughts on The Perks of Being a Wallflower.
Note: Sorry for having so many book reviews at once! I’ll try harder to spread them out over time.
The writing style is super-simplistic.
And yet, I didn’t mind this. Chbosky pulls this off because the book is told in first-person, narrated by Charlie. The author couldn’t use this style otherwise because it is a bit immature – which works for the character, but would reflect badly on the author if used for third-person.
I don’t understand the book’s cover.
I mean, green is a pretty color, but… what’s up with the design? The title is too small and not placed where it will be easy to see. There’s a lot of negative space, and I have no idea what the leg picture is supposed to represent.
Actually, it looks remarkably like something my brother and I might design, if we had to work together. My brother isn’t artistic (so he wouldn’t care about its aesthetic appeal) and I have the technological skills of a flea (so I’d have trouble fiddling around with the font and leg picture to make them the size I wanted).
There’s a reason I write rather than illustrate.
The story felt so real.
Early on, Charlie writes, “It’s strange because sometimes, I read a book, and I think I am the people in the book.” That is essentially how I felt while reading The Perks of Being a Wallflower. I didn’t love it so much that I just had to keep reading because I was desperate to learn what happened next. But when I did pick it up, the world just kind of dissolved around me and I felt like Charlie, Patrick, Sam, and all the others were friends I’d known forever.
That is one of the positive aspects of reading contemporary fiction, I guess. The stories are more realistic. While I may love hobbits and dragons and all that, it’s not as easy to pretend that their world is my own.
The book covers a lot of “issues” and sometimes they overwhelmed the rest of the story.
For example, it discusses drinking, drugs, LGBTQ+, teen pregnancy, molestation, and suicide. Yeah. That’s a lot. And this book isn’t very long, so sometimes it felt like the story bounced around from issue to issue without spending enough time on each.
For the record, I can think of two books that deal with a similar amount of “issues,” but do so in more depth. The first is Linda Newbery’s Sisterland which deals with, among other things, drinking, LGBTQ+ and teen pregnancy. (Plus racism and religion and the Holocaust. But this book is at least twice as long as The Perks of Being a Wallflower.) The other “issue” book is The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth.
Yes, I talk about this one a lot. No, I will never stop recommending it because it’s just that good. It deals with drinking, drugs, LGBTQ+, et cetera.
Epistolary novels are awesome!
The Perks of Being a Wallflower is one such novel, as you probably already figured out. I love books told through documents (usually letters) – I wouldn’t want to read them all the time, but they’re a nice change from other formats. I loved not being told who Charlie is writing to. I loved guessing who it might be.
So there you have it. Some part of the book needed improvement but nothing was just plain awful, and overall I liked it. It made me think and laugh and almost cry.
What is your opinion of The Perks of Being a Wallflower?