Tag Archives: Stephen Chbosky

Book Review: The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

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From Goodreads:
And while he’s not the biggest geek in the school, he is by no means popular. Shy, introspective, intelligent beyond his year 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 sidelines 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.

Being a teenager myself in the early 90’s, the movie based off this book caught my attention and, since I try to read the book before I see the movie, I picked this one up. It’s really short and written in the form of letters which makes it a breeze to read. I was able to finish it in just a few hours.

The book takes the form of letters written by Charlie to his “dear friend” and follows his freshman year of high school and what a year it was. I loved the 90’s references to television, movies and lots of music. What teenager in 91′ wasn’t in the process of making a mix tape in the hopes of pouring out our soul to anyone who would listen? I think the references are what made this book worth reading.

What kept this at 3 stars is that Charlie’s POV left me slightly confused. He’s 15, a freshman in high school and a bit of a misfit, which makes him a typical teen of this era. The problem is his voice isn’t consistent. I felt like I was reading the narrative of an 8-year-old who is living the experiences of a 20-year-old. He cry’s A LOT! And not just in private. It makes him seem much more immature than the actions he participates in.

What’s good about Charlie? He’s extremely perceptible to the emotions of the people around him. He’s sensitive, respectful and kind. He has thought’s that are beyond his years yet is so awkward. He tries so hard to please everybody and has to learn to live for himself and not others. Charlie is endearing but wholly frustrating.

Charlie’s friends are diverse and wonderfully unique. A hodgepodge of raging hormones and teen angst, they give Charlie and the story purpose and direction.

In my opinion, the author puts Charlie in way to many unlikely situations. The situations themselves aren’t unlikely, but the sheer number of them are. Here’s a rundown: smoking, drugs, alcohol abuse, sexual abuse, virginity, sexuality, abortion, mental breakdown, etc. How many 15 year olds experience all of these themselves or by association in one years time? In 4 years of high school, maybe, but just 1? Could happen, yes, but unlikely.

I think this would make a much better movie and I look forward to watching it soon.

If you enjoy atypical coming of age stories or dated references, this is a good fast read. Be prepared to be pummeled with life experiences, some of which are not “perks”.

View this book on Goodreads.
View this book on Amazon.

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