October 28, 2011

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Ok, so I'm definitely in the minority with this book. I didn't really like it at all. In fact to me, it was a book for teenagers trying to be angsty to try to relate to. But even then I'm not sure how they could relate to some of it.

The book is told through a series of letters from our main character Charlie, to an unknown person that he actually doesn't know as well, but heard that they were a good person. It tells of his first year of high school, the friends he makes, the things he does, the sadness he faces and all other emotions wrapped into one. He goes to parties, reads books recommended by his attentive English teacher, falls in love, and deals with his family issues and pours his heart out to the recipient of the letters.

For characters I thought they were written ok but I didn't relate to any of them and nothing convinced me to like any of them. Charlie's friends are a pretentious group that in reality would probably have nothing to do with Charlie. And that leads me to the main problem of this book, Charlie. There is something wrong with Charlie and it goes beyond being an angsty teenager. I admit that there are some aspects of his personality that some people could probably relate to, but all of them together leads me to believe that charlie is an autistic, albeit a high functioning one. In fact, when he got his license I got a little scared for his fictional world. His letters show him as childlike and immature but we were led to believe through all of them that he is actually quite brilliant. But we only have his word to go on it because based on his letters he is not. The reactions to him are not normal either. If he was truly the way he says he is, people would avoid him, make fun of him, etc. And as far as being a wallflower, I've always associated that with shy people who have trouble making friends. Charlie is neither shy and he appears to be ok at making some friends and not hanging out in the back of the crowd at parties. In fact he is the center of attention sometimes.

Although the letter writing is creative, since Charlie was the narrator I didn't enjoy reading the book. I found it tedious and boring at times and too many themes were thrown in to make it believable. And some of the most important ones were just glossed over. Its written for young adults but there is a lot of mature themes in here like rape, abortion, abuse, etc. But its handled indelicately and doesn't really express how serious these types of issues can be, and that scares me for any naive readers who happen to pick this book up. This book also has a tendency to pick a few things the author thinks is "cool" (and thinks others will think is cool) and then proceed to obsess over them, which was just annoying.

I won't say this was the worst book I've ever read but it definitely wasn't very good. Speaking from a true wallflower who was shy and unpopular in high school, it simply wasn't realistic.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Copyright 1999
213 pages

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