The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

“We accept the love we think we deserve.”

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I’ll start by saying that this book left me feeling odd, a good odd, but still not quite normal. And I think that is a good thing, because it is more or less the way Charlie feels throughout the story. I had wanted to read this book for some time now, but between studying and my other readings I didn’t have the time. Now that the movie is out I made it my goal the read it before watching, which is something I always like to do.

The book I bought was the only one available in my favorite bookstore, the edition was different from what I’m familiar with but I took it anyway. I got home and started flipping through the pages when something pink caught my eye and, needless to say, it made my day to find a pink slip of paper with the same quote I wrote above in it. It made me really happy to think that someone cared enough about a book to leave something for new readers to find.

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The Perks of Being a Wallflower has four parts and an epilogue and is composed of letters that the main character, Charlie, writes to an unnamed person, who, weirdly enough, he doesn’t know. According to him, he heard some of his classmates talking about this person and decided he or she sounded nice. He also defines this ‘nice’ by saying this person could have slept with someone at a party, but didn’t. Already in this first letter you start getting the sense of how out of the ordinary Charlie is.

So, he wrote to this person because he thought he/she would understand, also because the next day is his first day of high school. Not long before this, his best friend committed suicide, which left Charlie feeling sad and friendless. To me, he didn’t come across as lonely, more like isolated, as if there was no one he could relate to even though he loved his family. A couple of letters latter and he meets two seniors called Sam and Patrick, who are siblings, and they quickly become best friends. Patrick and Sam were both very accepting of his odd quirks, and while it didn’t feel exactly forced, the lack of mention until almost the end of the book bugged me a bit.

It’s a pretty mild factor to be bugged about, considering the polemic nature of some of the subjects of the book: drugs, underage drinking, mental problems, sexuality, and homophobia, among other things. I won’t mention the exact way homophobia appears, because it’s too spoilery, but I liked the way Charlie was, not only accepting, but he also gave the impression that there was nothing to accept because it wasn’t abnormal. Personal opinions aside, I thought it was very in character, since he spends the whole book putting his friends’ happiness before his own.

One of the things that threw me a bit was that Charlie sounded younger than he was actually supposed to be, although maybe it’s because of whatever mental instability he had or it was just the way Chbosky chose to write him. I was also a bit bothered by the lack of definitive ending, but having read all of John Green’s books I’m kind of used to it. Overall, I liked the book and can certainly relate to wanting to be a writer. Or writing essays about the books you read. Also: The Rocky Horror Picture Show, those who read will understand.

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