Saturday, February 25, 2012

Review: The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

The Perks of Being a Wallflower 
by Stephen Chbosky
Published: 2009
Publisher: MTV Books and Pocket Books
Available: Amazon


Caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it, Charlie is navigating through the strange worlds of love, drugs, "The Rocky Horror Picture Show", and dealing with the loss of a good friend and his favorite aunt.


When I originally heard about this book, I had very little interest in reading it. A boy's coming of age story just didn't hold much interest for me. It wasn't until Emma Watson was cast as Sam in the movie version that I decided to read it, although I did read through a lot of reviews beforehand.

Charlie is an interesting narrator. He is not the overly mature voice that a lot of YA authors give write. Instead he looks at things in a very simplified manner. Charlies wants to belong, to fit in, and he rides the line between childhood and adulthood. There is a simplicity in how he looks at things, such as the rape scene some many reviewers had a problem with. Charlie is no older than eleven when a guy rapes his girlfriend in front of Charlie. A lot of the reviews claimed it was stupid of Charlie not to understand what was going on, but I thought it was a realistic event. Charlie had no knowledge of sex, living a sheltered life, and was scared. he knew something was wrong but not what or even why.

The supporting characters were interesting, they had distinct personalities Charlies interactions with them felt real. There was a bit of a question as to why these seniors wanted to hang out with a kid younger than them, but in their first meeting it seemed like Patrick and Sam were amused with Charlie's naivety, and he just gradually melded into their group of friends.

Charlie does begin to wear thin after a while, and despite the professed intelligence that his English teacher credits him with, there is a question of whether he has not only emotional problems but psychological ones as well. He allows his friends to use him and strives to be anything and everything they want him to be. I actually found Sam's speech to Charlie at the end of the book to be a very revealing look into her character and why she was so accepting of Charlie.

While I enjoyed the book, I think the movie has the potential to be even better, although my Hermione Granger love may be influencing me :)

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