Friday, November 9, 2012

Book review: The Perks of Being a Wallflower

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Description from Goodreads (below) can be found here along with other reviews. Linking up with Blonde... Undercover Blonde for Book Club Friday.

It is the story of what it's like to grow up in high school. More intimate than a diary, Charlie's letters are singular and unique, hilarious and devastating. We may not know where he lives. We may not know to whom he is writing. 

All we know is the world he shares. Caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it puts him on a strange course through uncharted territory. The world of first dates, family dramas, and new friends. The world of sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, where all you need is that perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite.

Through Charlie, Chbosky has created a deeply affecting novel that will spirit you back to those wild and poignant roller coaster days known as growing up.

I went back and forth a few times between giving this book three or four stars on Goodreads. I didn't hate it. But I didn't love it. Maybe I should even actually give it two, which Goodreads says means "It's OK."

Charlie is an interesting narrator. At the start of the book, he seems to only have had one friend, who committed suicide, and now he has no friends. He often stands on the sidelines just observing life.

Then, a mentor-type English teacher challenges him to actually start living.

Charlie makes friends with just the people to help him do that.

I've seen reviews for this book that questioned its appropriateness for a Young Adult audience, or people who were uncomfortable with a lot of the things talked about. 

And it's true that there is a lot of content that many parents might find questionable. Charlie talks about masturbation and date rape. He does drugs. There are some sexual scenes, and some characters do intimate things with people they don't really care for. Charlie drinks and does drugs. And he's only 15 at the start of the book.

If I was a parent and my teen was reading this book, I'd want to have those awkward conversations with them about all of these topics, just to make sure they understood the consequences of sex and drugs and alcohol.


I think this book probably speaks to a lot of teens where they're at, and that's what YA is all about. Young adults go through a lot of stuff. For a lot of teens, deciding whether to drink, have sex, do drugs -- that's the world they're facing.

So I think Charlie is a character they might be able to relate to.

I guess I'm just saying, be prepared for some adult content with this book.

Other thoughts:
1. I related to Charlie's challenge of making sure he lives his life as much as he observes other people living. I'm a wallflower.

2. One thing I really related to was a scene where Charlie gives everyone a perfect gift and they're all shocked. I think that was spot-on for someone who finds him/herself on the sidelines a lot. You have time to notice things and know people, even if they don't know or notice you.

3. Charlie cries a lot. And he thinks too much. He was hard to relate to in most ways, and honestly a little whiny, which my writing teachers always said was a big no-no.

4. I had heard people say they never saw the ending coming, so then I was trying to guess the ending the whole time, and I was waaay off. And now you'll try to guess too.

...This is maybe an awful review. It's kind of a heavy book. It left me more with feelings than with thoughts.

Have any of you read The Perks of Being a Wallflower? What did you think?


Kate said...

We've obviously already had our little conversation about this book. But I think you hit SPOT ON when you said, "It left me more with feelings than with thoughts."

And I think those feelings are what helped save the book for me. Cause I was definitely tired of Charlie's crying. :P
Also, the whole "We accept the love we think we deserve" has and probably will always stick with me. It pop up when I see kids at my high school who are in terrible relationships. And I wonder if I'd be a creeper if I told them that line.

Kaitlyn's Life and Blogs said...

I have read this book. But I loved it. Haha.

I also recently saw the movie. It was so good. And it went by the book. Maybe because the author, wrote the screenplay and directed it. :)

Shoshanah said...

I have read this one! In fact it's what I linked up with this week for book club Friday!

Melissa said...

This is on my booklist for this month! I can't wait to read it and then hopefully see the movie! Thanks for commenting on my page :)


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