Friday, November 16, 2012

Guest Review: The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Title: The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Author: Stephen Chbosky
Pages: 213
Release Date: Feburary 1, 1999

Goodreads Description:

Standing on the fringes of life... offers a unique perspective. But there comes a time to see what it looks like from the dance floor.

Since its publication, Stephen Chbosky's haunting novel about the dilemma of passivity vs. passion has received critical acclaim, provoked discussion and debate, and grown into a cult sensation with over one million copies in print.

It is the story of what it's like to grow up in high school. More intimate than a diary, Charlie's letters are singular and unique, hilarious and devastating. We may not know where he lives. We may not know to whom he is writing. All we know is the world he shares. Caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it puts him on a strange course through uncharted territory. The world of first dates, family dramas, and new friends. The world of sex, drugs, and 
The Rocky Horror Picture Show, where all you need is that perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite.

Through Charlie, Chbosky has created a deeply affecting novel that will spirit you back to those wild and poignant roller coaster days known as growing up.

My Thoughts:

I’m a person that likes to read the book before seeing the movie version, but I felt fine with seeing the movie before fully finishing the book on this one. The reason being, the author of the book, Stephen Chbosky, was the screenplay writer and also the director of the film, so the direction of the film should have been very close to the direction of the book, only in imagery form. I have one warning to a reader though. This book contains deep subject matter and coarse language.

I’ll say that I liked the book for the most part. This book tells the story of a boy with the alias Charlie and his first year in high school. It is written in pen pal letter format to an anonymous receiver, which bothered me at first because it was hard to follow. Once I chose to ignore that, it was story about growing up in the 1990s and being misunderstood by most people in life until finding those true friends that just get it.  

As the book starts, Charlie is anxious about his first year of high school. Charlie doesn’t act like other teenage boys his age.  His social cues are a bit off and he doesn’t always do what is viewed as “correct” in situations. He’s starting his freshman year with no friends, an older sister who wants nothing to do with him, and being viewed as an outcast. He tries to blend into his surroundings and just survive high school hoping to find someone to call a friend. He finds that friendship in fellow “misfits”, Sam and Patrick.

Sam and Patrick, two, senior siblings, take Charlie under their wing and help him to find his place in the turbulent waters of high school. They give Charlie the stability in friendship that he desperately craves, while providing the will-they-or-won’t-they question of a relationship between Charlie and Sam. What starts out as a friendship that was developed to help Charlie ends up with Charlie helping Sam and Patrick along the way, and all three realizing they have more in common than they ever knew. As the book continues, my focus was less on the three’s friendship and more on what is going on with Charlie. Why does he have such high, highs and low, lows? What is the big connection with his aunt? What is really going on in him?

Chbosky’s book was a flashback to my teenage and early college years, in some ways. I had my own Sam and Patrick to help me through those years, but with far less tragedy. The book left me feeling sad, uncertain, and with the promise of hope for Charlie and his friends. I think that one of the best parts of this book is that the author gives you a soundtrack to read it by, written in the dialogue. And just like that soundtrack, the book ended the same as it began, leaving me with exactly the same emotions as when I finished the first chapter.


***Special thanks to my friend Whitney for offering to have a review posted on my blog. Hopefully, we haven't seen the last of her!


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