Title – The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Author – Stephen Chbosky
Rating – 5/5
Genres – Teenage fiction,Young Adult, Coming-of-age, Bildungsroman
“It’s just that I don’t want to be somebody’s crush. If somebody likes me, I want them to like the real me, not what they think I am. And I don’t want them to carry it around inside. I want them to show me, so I can feel it too.”
As a young adult, I believe there are a few staple coming-of-age books that everyone should read the minute they hit adolescence. They deal with teenager-y issues in a highly relateable way and don’t make you think that the author is being patronising or critical about the issues that teens face, and how important that those issues felt during that time. And in this category, Stephen Chbosky’s modern classic, ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’ is definitely one of the better ones out there.
The novel focuses on the high-school freshman year of the intelligent, yet highly introverted character of Charlie, who narrates his story by anonymous letters about this first terrifying year of being, what others call him, a ‘wallflower’; a being that lives on the fringes of society, but looks in and observes all. Within his first year of being a freshman, Charlie encounters drugs, sex, The Rocky Horror Picture show, and fitting into a group of friends who each have their own, individual problems. However, as Charlie becomes comfortable, the wallflower slowly begins to grow and mature, and as he moves away from the outside of society, and further in, his digs up traumas from his past, and secrets that he fears will make others judge him.
As I said before, Chbosky’s ‘Wallflower’ has been considered to be one of those rare ‘modern classics’, as it deals with the many ups and down with teenage and adolescence, but in a way that feels remarkably similar to your own teenhood, and makes you feel sympathy to the protagonist. Charlie is not annoying, and his problems are wholly real and important. Falling in love with Chbosky’s other characters is also guarenteed. Chbosky does the excellent thing of giving secondary characters a back story, and fleshing them out so they all tie in with the main story arc, and shows that it doesn’t matter how big and small your problems seem to others, they are always the most terrifying thing to the person involved.
There are so many different life lessons that Charlie gets through his time, and different experiences that you, as a reader could relate too. There are firsts – first crushes, first sexual encounters, first hangovers – but it is probably the first sense of love that Charlie experiences does seem to touch a nerve to everyone who I have spoken with. The love that Charlie is experiencing gives the reader a nostalgic sense of ‘Oh-I-remember-that’, and the way that Chbosky writes really shows that he can write though-provoking lines and emotions in a way that a teenage feels it.
I’m not sure why I love this book, or rather I cannot vocalise the many reasons why. But it just has the ability to hit any readers in a personal manner, especially with the deeper and more adult themes of depression, mood-swings and mental illness, and despite them not being explicitly pushed into your face throughout the novel, being able to understand them and relate to them does change how the novel can be read, and understood.
And it’s not just Charlie who the reader emphasises with. With the characters of Sam and Patrick, Chbosky introduces the deeper themes of sexuality, abuse and bullying. With these damaged, yet lovable characters, Chbosky not only shows how multi-layered people can be, but also how friendship and love can be a salve to the pain of repressed memories.
Like I said before, this is just one of those teenage books that has to be read, reread when you’re older, and passed on. And not just by teenagers, but adults who just want to revisit the characters they love, figures they may emphasize with, or to go back and revisit the memories of their own school years.
Also, I also thoroughly recommend the film version of this. Not only does it star the wonderful Emma Watson, but Logan Lerman plays a surprisingly perfect Charlie and don’t even get me started on Ezra Miller. Seriously, if you watch the film first, you’ll want to read the book.
If you, as a reader, loved:
- Looking for Alaska by John Green
- It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini
- Grow Up by Ben Brooks.
Then you’ll love this!
Author’s Twitter – Click Here
Trailer for Film
Note – have begun the transferal of all my old blogposts on my now-defunct blog onto this one. This blog will house everything I’ve published before, but in a sleeker and more professional way.
Thank you for reading this review.
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