“And I wonder if anyone is really happy. I hope they are. I really hope they are.”
“The Perks of Being a Wallflower” by Stephen Chbosky
It has been a very, very long time (too long?) since a book has affected me in the way that The Perks of Being a Wallflower has. I’m talking spending the whole day being teary-eyed and openly crying on the train home affected. Granted, I was menstruating that day and juggling with some work stress and new relationship stress, too, but even if my emotions hadn’t already been in a messy bundle, I know Stephen Chbosky’s tale of a distant, passive youth in the ’90s would have hit hard. I wish I had discovered this book a little over a decade ago in my own high school years. It’s absolutely incredible.
Charlie is about to enter high school after losing his best (and possibly only) friend to suicide last year, and he tells his story via letters to a stranger he is writing to be “she said you listen and understand and didn’t try to sleep with that person at that party even though you could have.” He doesn’t want this person to try to figure out who he is or to write back or anything; he just wants someone to write to and tell his story, a story that involves a blossoming friendship with siblings Patrick and Sam, which leads him down a fascinating road of sex, drugs, and Rocky Horror Picture Show. It leads him to discover who he is, what he has been, and who he will be. It’s the story of a wallflower, someone who observes and lets life pass them by, and how to discover when to start to participate.
Written in a voice that is clear and concise, innocent and deep and naive and observant all at once, Perks is a truly beautiful book, a beautiful story with a beautiful main character. There were some parts that I wish there would have been a little bit more of (the disappointment I felt at the discovery that I was not being handed, finally, a very incredibly impressive male bisexual character in literature still makes me sigh), but there were so many things right about it that those little details don’t sting too much. Because, even if I would have done things a little differently, there’s no denying that this is Chbosky’s character through and through and I can’t begrudge him for staying incredibly true to Charlie.
If you haven’t read this book, it comes to me highly recommended as an excellent slice of young adult fiction that I expect I’ll be revisiting annually.
Books read: 009/100.