The Perks of Being a Wallflower is one of my all-time favorite books. A little treasure of a book, it was given to me by a dear friend in high school (which feels like the perfect time to read it because Charlie is struggling and finding his way through life in high school) and since then, I’ve probably read it a dozen times. And I’ve shared it probably with just as many people. It’s a book that changes you, changes your perspective, makes you think, makes you sad, causes you to create silence in your life to look at the things around you and inside you, and try to understand it all. I think it’s easy to say that I take something new away from each time I read it, a new perspective or the same one, affected differently but deeply, and I think that’s probably true for most people who read it.
I found the review below on Amazon.com and wanted to share it because it reads less like a review and more like a friend pulling the tattered book out of their bag and setting it on a table in front of you — pages bent and certain paragraphs or quotes highlighted (or maybe like mine, the poem page earmarked because I’ve gone back to it so many times) — and sincerely telling you why you need to read it, what it’s about and how it’s relatable (which should be how all reviews read), just begging for you to read it and absorb it so you can connect, congratulate and commiserate together after you finish it. I wanted to share this particular review because I think even in the way people describe this beloved book, there’s a lot to learn in that. I can imagine this being a book club selection and discussing it for months, and dear goodness, the things we might know of our friends if we truly talked and shared and listened after reading this book and dissecting its sadness.
I can’t find my copy of The Perks of Being a Wallflower now – surely it’s with someone I gave it to or someone they gave it to, or perhaps it’s found its way to a used bookstore for someone else to discover my underlines and bent pages – that’s the magic in books, right?
Have you read The Perks of Being a Wallflower? I’d love to know your thoughts about it.
“I read The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky, in April of my sophomore year at college. A friend lent it to me and I had read it within twelve hours. This book reaches inside of you and pulls everything to the surface. It is a beautiful and painful story about a 15 year old boy, Charlie, moving through his freshmen year of highschool. It is written in letter form to an unknown friend. Charlie is always completely honest, whether he is describing his first “beer” party where he witnessed a girl being raped by her boyfriend, or explaining masturbation and his excitement for this newfound “activity.” Charlie is a wallflower who observes people and feels very deeply for the experiences occuring around him. His favorite Aunt Helen died in a car accident when he was six, and he holds himself accountable, and his best friend committed suicide a year before he began the letters. His English teacher realizes Charlie’s potential and brilliance and asks him to try and participate, which Charlie agrees to do. He becomes friends with two seniors Patrick and Samantha and begins to experience dances, parties, the Rocky Horror Picture Show, pot, love, bad trips and sexuality. We feel exhilerated when Charlie describes his happy moments, and we are swallowed in pain when Charlie is overwhelmed by his depression. Charlie’s realizations are eye opening for us, and we are so captivated and immersed in his life that his life and stories become a very real experience. This book is about moments, and being as much alive within each moment as possible. It is about looking around us at the world and the people and appreciating that we don’t know what their lives are like, and the pain and happiness that they experience day to day, so we shouldn’t judge them but accept them and appreciate them. A favorite section of this book, for me, was when Charlie describes the movie It’s A Wonderful Life, and how he wished the movie had been about one of the less heroic characters so the audience could have seen the meaning that this person’s life held. That moment is just one example of Charlie’s amazing intuition. This book should not be limited to a certain “category” of people. I truly believe that it would be understood, appreciated, and loved by everyone aged 12 (+ or – a few) and up regardless of gender, race, sexuality, etc. This book changes you, if only for a moment, but you are not the same upon completion, and you become more appreciative of life than ever.” – Emily, Amazon.com
P.S. Don’t get the book with the movie promotion cover. That’s stupid. I hate movie poster books. I haven’t seen the movie – I want to and I will – but please don’t be unawesome. Get the original cover book, read it, then go see the movie. You’re welcome.
P.S. 2 Here’s an article that the author of the book/director of the movie, Stephen Chbosky, did for the Washington Post.
P.S. 3 If anyone wants to buy me this card of a quote from the book and mail it to me so I can frame it, that’d be great. Thanks.