The Perks of Being a Wallflower Book Review

And in that moment, I swear we were infinite.

— pg 39

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Dear friend,

I am writing you this review because I read this book about a boy named Charlie and he is a wallflower and stands on the edge of life until he meets some new people who show him passion and then he opens his eyes a little more and sees himself a little better.

Charlie writes to an unnamed friend and throughout his letters (see what I did there? Charlie writes letters so I wrote a letter? Clever, right?) we get to know him and his family. His English teacher, Bill, gives him books to read and essays to write and Charlie’s writing gets better throughout the story. That was sort of random to put in, but I thought maybe that was a metaphor for Charlie’s life.

Anyways, Charlie’s story is that of a simple, and shy, teenage boy growing up in the 1990s. Which seems like ages ago. Which is sort of is. A few of the things that Charlie does and deals with might end up seeming a little out there for the normal kid of today (for instance, the lack of technology obviously changes how people communicate and interact with each other). But the essence of the story stands true throughout the ages. Charlie goes through a lot of things. He faces death, he has gay friends, he’s tried pot and smokes and falls in love with a girl he really shouldn’t love. These sorts of things…they’re lessons that last. I guess you could say that they apply to kids today as much as they did then. The emotions that accompany the events in this story were dramatic, but well executed; they made the characters and scenes come to life and I think that was really important for a book like this.

I liked that classic feel of the story. That despite the huge year gap the kids of then were still the kids of now. It makes relating to the characters easy. And of course, the characters themselves are worth relating too. I found Charlie’s voice (his use of “Wow!” was funny) rather unique and an interesting perspective because he was neither too popular and thus faced with stereotypes of popular people, nor too shy and faced with the stereotypes of shy people. He was just normal enough to seem– dare I say it?– real, but had enough personality that he stood out among other “normal” book characters.

The supporting cast was also vibrant. They were just interesting people. Sorta like the Breakfast Club where you get a taste of every kind of person. Charlie’s voice is blunt so the essence of these people shows up quickly. Because of Charlie’s unique position of wallflower, he sees people in the ways that they might not see themselves. But I loved that he couldn’t see his own major flaw.  Like the doctor that can’t save herself; I thought that was interesting.

The one thing that I found really strange was that everyone cried in this book. And they cried a lot. Did people cry more in the 90s? I’m not really sure. But it seemed like every time emotions got really high, characters would just burst into tears.

This is definitely one of my shorter (and really jerky– I apologize for the absence of transitions!) reviews, but I can’t say much good or bad about this book, mostly because I’m kind of in the middle about it. I reviewed it because I heard a movie might come out based on the book, and I thought it’d be nice to know what people were talking about. From reading it, I can tell it’s the type of book to get a cult following, the way people like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind– because it is simply different and interesting. However, with both this book and that movie, I was entertained, but I can’t say I loved them. I mean, this book was excellently done, but I’m not going to lie and say it was the best book I’ve ever read. I was sort of expecting it to be mind-blowing. It was…half way there.

Overall, it’s a great slice-of-life story and I think something teens should at least try to read because I think people can learn a lot from Charlie. I don’t think it’s a bad thing if you don’t end up loving it as much as people expect you too. But I believe most people who read it will get something out of it. At the least, a touching story. And for some, they’ll come away feeling, as Charlie so wonderfully said, infinite.

Love always,

RI

Ri’s Rating:

QQQ/QQQQQ
3/5


0. Couldn’t get past chapter one for fear of wanting to kill myself. Book induced suicide…

1: Yuck. Ew. Below Average. Probably didn’t even read the middle and skipped to the end.

2. Ok. Would’ve been better if I’d written the ending and everything else.

3. Not bad at all. Very enjoyable. Quite nice. Recommendable.

4. My kind of book. Near ideal, but something was a little off (annoying names, bad ending, that sort of thing).

5. WOW. Makes me wonder why people watch T.V when this is out there. Really liked it. Don’t expect to see this often.

6 and above. What I want my book to be.

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3 Comments

  1. Alice the Anomalous

     /  January 20, 2011

    Sounds like an interesting read and I must say I find the title to be attractive. It’s going on my to read list. My very long to read list. I like the fact that there’s evident proof of character development in the form of Charlie’s writing. It’s pretty innovative. Me likes.

    Some people cry more easily not due to emotion but because they have less resistance to crying (I am one of those people). Once the tears start, it’s hard to hold back. I haven’t read the book, so this might all be rubbish and they end up being emotional after all.
    I don’t think people cried more in the 90’s, though I’ve noticed that it’s progressively less acceptable to cry. I mean, what’s the big deal about it? If you need a good cry, do it. It just feels like people are less empathetic about it than before. Maybe it’s that it’s now “cool” to not care. Hogwash.

    Reply
  2. I just bought this book when you were over here but I haven’t had a chance to read it yet, too absorbed in all of John Green’s masterpieces. I guess I should soon!

    Reply

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