Charlie is a freshman and while he’s not the biggest geek in the school, he is by no means popular. Shy, introspective, intelligent beyond his years yet socially awkward, he is a wallflower, caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it. Charlie is attempting to navigate his way through uncharted territory: the world of first dates and mixed tapes, family dramas and new friends; the world of sex, drugs and the Rocky Horror Picture Show, when all one requires is that perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite. But Charlie can’t stay on the side line forever. 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. The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a deeply affecting coming of age story that will spirit you back to those wild and poignant, roller-coaster days known as growing up.
I’m not one to follow the crowd but I did jump on the bandwagon with this book and as much as I didn’t want to like it after all the hype about it, there was something about the main character Charlie, that pulled me in and made me keep reading and ultimately fall more in love with him and his story. The story is written from Charlie’s point of view in a series of letters to a ‘friend’ which remains anonymous. I was a bit sceptical at first as I felt this might get a bit tedious but instead it had the complete opposite effect. It draws you in to the life of this mixed-up, socially-awkward, confused boy which you connect to instantly. At some point during your adolescent years, you’ve probably been through something similar to what Charlie writes about and his problems are all so real you find yourself becoming emotionally attached and identifying to him, his friends and the problems he faces throughout the book. I also like the way the book is written. Chbosky doesn’t try and be clever but simply writes it as a teenage boy would write which not only makes it more believable but an easy read that makes you want to keep going and going in the hope that things will eventually work out for young Charlie.
This book is full of surprises and includes a range of different emotions and situations that will take you back to your teenage years, from Charlie falling in love for the first time with his friend Sam to finally feeling like you’re a part of something when he makes new friends. He mentions a lot of books, musicians and songs that Charlie comes to love and the groups ever growing love for the Rocky Horror Picture Show. I honestly cannot think of a single criticism for this book and as much as I didn’t want to get pulled into the drama of it, I’m glad I did because Chbosky deserves the hype and the praise for this emotional, touching and beautifully written novel in which some of his words will stay with you long after you put the book down.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower was turned into a film in 2012 starring Logan Lerman, Emma Watson, Ezra Miller and Paul Rudd and is available to buy now on DVD.