Monday, July 29, 2013

Review: The Perks of Beign a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Author: Stephen Chbosky
Format: Paperback
Published: February 1, 1999
Publisher: MTV Books
ISBN-13: 9781451696196
Pages: 213

Synopsis from Goodreads
Charlie is a freshman.

And while he's not the biggest geek in the school, he is by no means popular. Shy, introspective, intelligent beyond his years yet socially awkward, he is a wallflower, caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it.

Charlie is attempting to navigate his way through uncharted territory: the world of first dates and mix tapes, family dramas and new friends; the world of sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, when all one requires is that perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite. But he can't stay on the sideline forever. Standing on the fringes of life offers a unique perspective. But there comes a time to see what it looks like from the dance floor.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a deeply affecting coming-of-age story that will spirit you back to those wild and poignant roller-coaster days known as growing up.



My Thoughts

So what exactly does it mean to be a "wallflower"? According to dictionary.com it's "a person who, because of shyness, unpopularity, or lack of partner, remains at the side at a party or dance."

I felt the definition of a wallflower was important for this review because after all it's part of the title and not knowing exactly what a wallflower is would take away a great deal from the story.

With that being said Charlie is exactly that, a wallflower. I read this book thanks to my niece's recommendation and I must say that it wasn't anything I was expecting. The story is told in the way of a journal but it's really a set of letters written from Charlie to an unknown recipient. Through Charlie's letter we learn about his life, his past, and his struggles.

Every young adult struggles through being accepted, experimenting with drugs, and sexual awareness. That is what The Perks of Being a Wallflower is all about. A young boy who faced with the struggles of adolescences accepts his life and learns to move forward. Being a 30 something mother of a soon to be teenager, brought back many memories of being an adolescent. It's a story that parents and children alike should read because I believe it's important for parents to remember how difficult it was to be a teenager.

Things I liked
  • I really liked how Chbosky described Charlie's anxieties and feelings of disconnect. As someone who suffers from these conditions he did an exceptional job and describing exactly what you feel during such episodes.
  • Charlie's relationship with Bill. I wish I'd had a teacher like him that would have been there for me as and supported me during my HS years.
  • The supporting characters. They were each unique and intriguing in their own special way. 
  • The family dynamic. Especially, the inclusion of Charlie's extended family. 
  • I liked the song references.
  • I liked that it was a quick read.
  • I liked Charlie himself; although, I have some reservations in regards to his character (see below).
Things I didn't like
  • I think that there was too much that Chbosky tried to cover in such a short amount of time. As such, I felt none of the topics were given the amount of time they needed. While Chbosky touched on delicate issues; such as, abortion and molestation, there wasn't enough time dedicated to the issues to offer either a sense of closure, understanding, or connection. 
  • I felt that Charlies character was a bit too naive for his age and I didn't understand why he was crying every second. I am a very emotional person and I have a child who is very emotional but even still, Charlie was just too much. 
  • The confusion of who is receiving Charlie's letters is never clarified, the book ends and the reader is still left questioning who the recipient is and why they are important enough for him to send these letters. At first I believed that I (the reader) was the recipient and it was as if Charlie was writing to me. Then at the end there's some type of explanation about someone's friend... it's confusing to say the least.
All-in-all I think this story is worth reading and I recommend it to anyone entering the teenage years as well as adults who have unwillingly forgotten what it is to be young and lost. My only regret is that the story doesn't offer a solution, something that would help other teens struggling with similar issues.

My Rating

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