The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Author: Stephen Chbosky
Rated F for the fringe of doing things for yourself and doing them for others.
A unique perspective from the letters of Charlie, a freshman in high school. He’s just trying to navigate life, take chances, and figure out who he wants to be and who he wants to be around. From only what Charlie decides to share, from his deep love of books to his family and his friends, Sam and Patrick. Charlie discovers what it is through his misadventures was it is to feel infinite.
A strong and powerful coming of age book. Some books about growth come at you from a soft angle—finding your first love, dealing with heartache and even family discord. Then there’s the sharp, hard angle—drugs, sex, and the struggles with self’s mentality to the brink of memory breaks and harm. It’s all in the way the author approaches such a tale. This one took me to places I didn’t expect. Through the eyes of an introvert, Charlie accepted the challenge go out and partake in the world and discovered more than he expected. That life is in the small moments, both good and bad. I definitely appreciate the way Charlie slows down at them.
When I had started this I’d already seen the movie. So, I had idea of what to expect. I was also wrong in that aspect. LOL. The book was much darker than the movie. Charlie’s drug use was typical but still worrisome because of his dependence on it. That, and his mental health had my heart aching for him. There was so much he was trying to figure out and get a grasp on without any help and almost constant bereavement as if he were the black sheep. But when he found his tribe in Sam, Patrick, and the others, I was grateful for him. When you find your people, all of those other times that you felt loneliness and out of place, it’s wonderful.
I found the relationship that formed between Charlie and Sam to be hypocritical almost. I understand wanting somebody to think about what they want instead of what others want, which is what Sam seemed to be trying to goad out of Charlie. But, there are people in the world who are happy making the people they care about happy. They are respectful. And kind. Hell, some people are naturally dense and don’t catch onto hints. But Sam seemed to push him so hard on it until he broke and the really put her in a foul light for me. She also seemed to want him to push her to some sort of limit that she never made fully clear to Charlie. I love Same, just not how she slammed Charlie on occasion. The way she did it made it clear that she had some issues to work out as well.
What I found so interesting and incredible was the lack of world-building. Chobsky’s unique writing through letters took up the most basic of settings and allowed the reader to take it from there. Sure you get specific place and time but in some ways it feel insignificant. What was important about these places were the people in them.
Charlie’s decision to change people’s names in the book because he’s afraid of being recognized and judged by the one he’s writing to really called out everyone on the planet. For one thing or another, we’re all afraid of being judged. Whether it’s by family, friends, strangers or which ever God(s) you hail to. That feeling is there and very present with just that small decision. I had a few ideas of who Charlie may be writing to and I like that it’s left a mystery.
Definitely one of the best, most powerful books I’ve ever read. Really touches on a personal note with mental health and well-being as well as navigating a life that proves to be anything but the ‘norm’. Thought and emotion-provoking. A part of me wishes there was a sequel, but my better half knows this is just perfect in its exploration of imperfections and personal struggle. I also love that this really pointed out that while you may not be able to find where you fit and that you may feel unseen and uncertain about everything. Quite frankly you may feel utterly lost. Utterly broken and not even notice it. Somebody sees you.
“Charlie, we accept the love we think we deserve.” (Bill, p. 24)
“In that moment, I swear we were infinite.” (Charlie, p. 39)
“Sometimes, I look outside, and I think that a lot of other people have seen this snow before. Just like I think a lot of other people have read those books before. And listened to those songs.” (Charlie p. 95)
“Think if I ever have kids, and they’re upset, I won’t tell them that people are starving in China or anything like that because it wouldn’t change the fact that they were upset. And even if somebody else has it much worse, that doesn’t really change the fact that you have what you have.” (Charlie, p. 211)
More to come soon…
Song Today? Simplify by Young the Giant.
Thoughts? Let’s chat in the comments below!