Literature / Personal Opinion

REVIEW: The Perks of Being A Wallflower

Following my book list post, I finished my first summer novel- The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky.

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The book was made into a film in 2012, starring Logan Lerman and Emma Watson and I actually saw the film before I read the book, which is unusual for me. What was even more strange was that I actually found the book equally as enjoyable as the film, whereas 9 times out of 10 I always prefer the book over the movie. Definitely worth a watch.

The book is epistolary, written in the form of letters from a high school freshman named Charlie to a correspondent known only as ‘Friend’.  I found Charlie to be a very likeable character, and got quite attached to him as the novel went on. Charlie doesn’t quite fit in at high school, but he is neither desperate to try to fit in, nor sorry for himself. This is only further celebrated by the fact that despite a number of tragic circumstances in his life – such as the suicide of his childhood friend or the death of his ‘favourite’ aunt Helen – Charlie very much lacks any self-pity. He meets seniors Patrick and Sam (female) who too are ‘misfits‘ (in their own words) and they become a trio.

Charlie tends to sit back and watch what happens around him – a trait I found very likeable, as although I’m not very similar to Charlie, I do enjoy people watching. What I also loved about Charlie was his passion for literature. He strikes up a close friendship with his English teacher who encourages him to read more challenging literature, and sets him extra essays which further stimulate his literary talent. Charlie is rarely the centre of attention, and is very much a ‘wallflower‘ – hence the apt title. Sam and Patrick do help to bring Charlie out of his shell a little bit, and he experiments with alcohol, drugs and girls, just like the other teenage characters in his world.

I don’t want to reveal too much of the plot, as I would really encourage people to read for themselves, or at least to watch the film. There is the ever-so-slightly stereotypical romantic plot line as Charlie falls for Sam, but I fully consent this as to me it is refreshingly honest, real and lacks the cringiness of most love stories. The story also has a more sinister twist, as we learn that something traumatic has happened to Charlie, though we can’t quite pin down what, though again I will leave this to you to read for yourself.

I struggled to put the book down, and finished it within two days, despite being relatively busy. As I mentioned previously, I became quite attached to Charlie and was desperate to find out what was wrong with him, and was holding out for a happy ending. I found the film similarly captivating and actually quite moving. I also found Chbosky’s use of language rather poetically beautiful, and we all know I’m a sucker for such language.

I would recommend the book to anybody as it was a relatively easy and somewhat enjoyable read, though I would particularly suggest the book to teenagers, as some may be able to relate in some way to the characters and their struggles, be that in their identity, their self expression, homosexuality, abuse, romance, sex, alcohol or drugs. I’m not suggesting that the book will offer a solution for anyone’s problems, but I believe it certainly allows readers an insight into the mind of an interestingly complex character to whom you may be able to relate to in some way.

To finish this review, I’d like to include some quotes from the novel that stuck with me after reading them, a sign of Chbosky’s wonderful use of language:

 

 

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6 thoughts on “REVIEW: The Perks of Being A Wallflower

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