So after you all saw me talk on and on and on about The Perks of Being a Wallflower movie, I thought it was a good time to pick the book up and read it. Boy, I sure was right. Before I get into the review, I just need to tell you all this: this book is life changing.
This book is written by Steven Chbosky and published in 1999. This book didn’t become “mainstream” until 2012, when it was set to be a movie adaptation. Like most of my favourite books, the topic covered in this book is quite different from most YA books. The book has some “popular” smaller topics featured in this book (drugs, alcohol, etc.) but the narration of the book is quite different to most YA books that feature narration. This book is such a change from the “average” YA novel and it really opened my eyes. The narration of this book are written as letters, addressed to the reader. I find that this type of narration was a good choice for the book as we understand Charlie’s thoughts and feelings and it also makes the story much more relatable.
The title of the book is rather confusing, so to speak. Looking at the title of the book, I wouldn’t have known what to expect. The cover is absolutely amazing, specifically because I have the movie poster edition which features Ezra Miller, Emma Watson and Logan Lerman on the cover. Le sigh.
The characters in this book are so well developed. The book stars a 15 year old boy named Charlie who is just about his Grade 9 year of high school. Charlie is a quiet, naive, introverted guy who has had past difficulty making friends, specifically after some past incidents Charlie has gone through. I love the personality of Charlie, and I find myself being very empathetic towards him, as I can relate to him in some ways, as I also have trouble making friends. Charlie is such an interesting character and makes the narration of the novel much more interesting. The backstories of the incidents are very thought out, and they make the book have a much more effective way of telling the story. The mixtapes that Charlie listens to are another way to know how Charlie is feeling. Charlie soon meets two seniors and they take him under their wing. Their names are Patrick and Sam. Patrick aka “Nothing” is a loud, extroverted guy that doesn’t take things seriously. He has a warm heart and is very welcome to Patrick. Patrick soon turns out to be gay, which turns into a large part of the story. Patrick’s step sister is Sam. Sam is a senior who Charlie begins to develop a crush on. Sam and Patrick share a love for old music, which Charlie soon loves, which represents the changes and adaptations he is going through in high school. Charlie develops feelings for Sam, though he tries to deny them as Sam has a boyfriend named Craig. Sam also has developed bad reputation in terms of sleeping with guys and alcoholism from the past. Sam and Patrick are the perfect sidekicks for a character like Charlie. They are the main cause of the changes Charlie goes through. They are also such thought out characters, and make the story much more entertaining to read. Sam and Patrick’s other friends, Alice, Mary Elizabeth and Bob are also important characters, though they have small parts. Their main importance is featured later in the book. Charlie’s mother, father, and especially his brother impacts Charlie’s feelings and actions, specifically from the middle to the end of the book. His sister Candace plays a huge part in Charlie’s life, specifically with her family and boyfriend problems, more the latter and Charlie is shown to be a big supporter for her. The other main character is his English teacher, Bill. Throughout the book Bill gives Charlie extra books out of class, and Bill soon becomes a friend of Charlie. Bill becomes a supporter of Charlie and is always there for when Charlie needs someone to talk to.
I found the extensive mentions of book and song titles really interesting. The books were a representation of Charlie’s feelings and thoughts towards things, some more than others. I really appreciated that all of the book and song titles mentioned are actually real. I feel like it adds another layer to the story if you listen to the songs or read the books. I have become much more likely to read some of the books (ie. To Kill a Mockingbird, The Great Gatsby, etc.) mentioned in this book. The Rocky Horror Picture Show also is a main topic of the book, and is mentioned/referenced many times. Again, this will add another layer as some of the emotions played out by the characters in Rocky Horror also has an impact on the real life characters feelings.
The main character of this book is a not a very popular personality trait chosen for a narrator. Most main character/narrator is usually a popular girl/guy in high school, and they have a whole bunch of smaller problems that always get solved and there’s always a happy ending. I mean, there’s a happy ending in The Perks of Being a Wallflower, but it’s not as “compact” (if you know what I’m saying). It ends on a mellow note, leaving you satisfied. There’s no fairytale ending to this book though, and some (smaller) questions are left unanswered.
My favourite character without a doubt is Charlie. The amount of work that Steven Chbosky put in to making a character like Charlie is astounding. The amount of detail that is provided to the reader is insane. This makes Charlie much easier to understand and much more relatable. Even though he is the narrator, you don’t automatically know everything about him. Throughout the book, you learn more and more things about him that really makes a difference to the understanding of the book. Charlie is such a sweet kid, and in scenes where he discusses not having any friends really makes me sad and makes me question some of his fellow peers decisions of not choosing to be friends with him. Charlie’s way of communicating with the reader is really quite interesting and ands a lot of effect to the story.
I feel like this book can’t be summarized in a thousand or so words. It doesn’t give the book justice. This is one of the greatest books I’ve ever read, and is up there with The Fault In Our Stars, Fangirl and Eleanor & Park. The narration of the book is amazing and it makes the book so much more enjoyable to read and much easier to understand. Overall, I can truly say this book is life changing. I am now looking at life in a different light. I feel like I will reach for this book a lot, especially since I will be entering high school very soon. If you were only able to buy one book for an extended period of time, pick this book. This is a book that makes you think and is just a very good book in general.