The Perks of Being a Wallflower
written by Stephen Chbosky
published by MTV Books
Why did I pick this book: I have wanted to read this book for awhile. Luckily – or should I say, thankfully – my book group chose this book as their August pick.
Did I enjoy this book: That is a difficult question. I would have to say that overall, yes, I did enjoy this book. But it did not, in my opinion, live up to all of the hype that it received. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but it didn’t meet those expectations. The reason I say I did enjoy it overall is because I kept thinking about it after I finished reading it. It didn’t leave me right away.
Charlie was an interesting character and narrator. The style was different being that the entire story was told in a series of letters addressed to “Friend”. I still want to know who “Friend” is and what “Friend” thought when he or she received these letters from some kid he or she did not know. I want to know what is up with Charlie. There is something not quite right about him. I understand that a lot of it comes from what he has been through but I also have to wonder if it isn’t an undiagnosed disorder or something. But there is something. I liked Charlie. I felt bad for him. I felt happy for him. I felt sad for him. There was a large range of emotions that I felt while reading this book. Charlie experienced just about everything that can happen to a teen in the course of one school year. He was very emotional throughout the book and his language did not sound like a 14 or 15 year old boy. In fact, when I started reading the book, I thought Charlie was a girl.
The friends that Charlie meets during his freshman year of high school were an interesting bunch. I grew up in this era so some references were familiar. My favorite thing was that the two main friends, Sam and Patrick, befriended Charlie despite him being “weird” or kind of out there. I don’t know that that would happen in today’s world. I’d like to think that it would and I would hope that this book would inspire that type of friendship (at least the type of friendship that occurred in the beginning…some of it towards the end was inappropriate) today. Sam and Patrick were fun, caring, popular but not in the conventional sense. They were teens of the late 80s trying to find their place in the 90s. I also loved Charlie’s English Lit teacher. He really reached out to Charlie and helped him. He challenged him because he saw something in him.
I loved that the book was set in Pittsburgh. The tunnel descriptions were spot on. If anyone has ever experienced going through the Fort Pitt tunnels and seeing the city appear before you as you exit, you know how awesome that it. No matter how many times I see that, it still gets me a little bit.
I can honestly say that this is one of the few books that I actually liked the movie so much better than the book. I watched The Perks of Being a Wallflower after I read the book. And besides the not so good American accent by Hermione, and the lack of the yinzer accent by all of the actors in this film, the movie was, dare I say, better than the book. It really helped me to visualize what was going on in the book. While reading the book, I could hear the yinzer accent. I really wish the actors in the movie had taken a course in how to speak Pittsburghese. It would have made the whole movie.
Would I recommend it: I would recommend this book. It is a different read in some respects. If you are from Pittsburgh, you will totally get the tunnel scenes. If you like edgy YA, then read this.
Will I read it again: I will not unless my kids read it when they are older. If that’s the case, I may reread it to refresh my memory so I can talk to them about it.
About the book – from Goodreads: And while he’s not the biggest geek in the school, he is by no means popular. Shy, introspective, intelligent beyond his year 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 mix 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 he can’t stay on the sidelines 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.
Happy reading wherever you are and whenever you get a free chance!!!