Wednesday, 7 November 2012

The Perks of Being a Wallflower - Stephen Chbosky

Since the announcement of the release of the motion picture film of the same name starring Logan Lermon and more notably, Emma Watson, this is a book that has again gained many readers as they learn about Charlie's life in growing into a proper teenager.

I read this book this time last year and I have to admit, I didn't think much of it. I thought it was good and thought-provoking but I didn't get the hype, there was nothing extraordinary about it.
Anyway, when I saw a copy of this book recently at my place of work with a newer cover to mark the release of the movie, I bought a copy. And let two of my friends borrow it, and they loved it, saw the movie, loved that, I thought it was time I gave this book another try.

Synopsis: Charlie is starting high school as a freshman - alone. His best and only friend has gone and he is thought weird, geeky and socially awkward by his peers. This is until he is befriended by some seniors who take him under their wing and introduce him to the life of a typical teenager: relationships, love, drugs, alcohol and The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Review: For starters, I enjoyed this much more the second time round. I don't think I quite understood the first reading of this and after watching the movie, I think I understood the ending and Charlie more. 
Charlie is an interesting character. The narrative is told entirely from his point of view in the form of letters to an unknown person. There are a few theories who that unknown person is, but I'll let you make your own judgements.  At the start of the novel, we start by knowing nothing and end with knowing not everything... There is closure but I would have like a little more. 

Charlie's language fluctuates from being very simple to being very vivid and complex. I loved Chbosky's writing. This book is not one where you can admire the vivid descriptions or be amazed by the choice of words. It is like Chbosky is saying 'Here's the story with no added crap. Like it or not'. Very different approach, but I liked this way. There was no metaphors and stupid representations of things you have to think yourself. It was just simple a story that could happen to a teenager. 
I could say the writing is clear and although you do know most of what happens, after seeing the movie and having a friend explain to me the ending (which the first time reading I DID NOT realise, it's THAT subtle), there are parts which are incredibly subtle and implicit. The ending bit with his aunt? Never realised.

Charlie is a very likeable character and I found myself becoming more and more attached to him. I do see something of myself in him, the naivety of the experience within teenage society, not understanding things that he 'should' know etc. Charlie is so sweet also, and a few characters within the novel use this nature which made me like him more. I think anyone in their teenage years, even those in a group considered 'popular', would understand Charlie's experiences in growing up throughout the book - the angst, the confusion and the emotions that everyone shares. It is this that I think anyone can relate to this novel - those that have been far through adolescence and those that are experiences it here and now. It does unite people in something we all go through. 

I loved some of the quotes in this book, Charlie himself as well as some of the other great characters like Sam and Patrick. Charlie is someone that embodies everyone, everyone can relate to him in some kind of way. The writing is what makes this book. The book provides a unique portrayal of teenage life that although, may seem unrealistic, I can assure you it is realistic and quite well done. 

I give it a 4 out of 5

Author's Website:
Pages: 213
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Challenges: None

As I mentioned, there is a movie version of this book which I found really good actually! Although this is a YA book, the movie is not a teenage movie. My friend, who hates those kind of movies, came out saying it was incredibly good. And the plus side: they haven't changed the story too much. So go see this after you've read the book!

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