The Perks of Being a Wallflower - Stephen Chbosky I started reading this book because I needed something short and sweet to lift my moods and I was sure I would like this book. I’ve read some great reviews and I was expecting nothing less than a five-star book. Sadly, I expected too much. This certainly wasn’t a “meh” kind of book for me, when I forget everything about it in few hours. There were things that I really liked, but there were also things I highly disliked.

First, there’s Charlie. He’s supposedly an intelligent, introspective, shy 16-year-old. As a shy and introverted person myself, I didn’t find him shy at all, but he is a bit socially awkward. Sometimes he couldn’t read the most basic social or emotional signs in other people, but at other times (a LOT of times), he got very emotional. It doesn’t say what is the reason for him being this way, so at the end I decided he might have some sort of Asperger syndrome. The main reason why I didn’t like this book as I could have is that I had to keep reminding myself that these letters (the whole book is composed of Charlie’s letters to an unknown person) was writing a 16 year old teenager. He sounded like he was 10. He discovered masturbation at almost 16, which is quite late. He also described his feelings very simplistic, like “I was very sad”. Then, he had thoughts like this: “The commercial said that the whole movie was about him trying to prove that he was innocent and how he could go to jail anyway. That scared me a lot. It scared me how much it scared me. Being punished for something you did not do. Or being an innocent victim. It’s just something that I never want to experience. I don’t know if it is important to tell you all this, but at the time, it felt like a “breakthrough”.” I’m pretty sure I had “breakthroughs” like that a lot earlier in life. I mean, you learn that life isn’t fair quite early, right? I remember when I was around 9 when I asked my father what would he do if I was a lesbian. He answered that he would kick me out of the house for sure, and I was thinking how that’s not fair, since it’s not my decision if I was going to be a lesbian or no. But that’s just one memory and I remembered it for no reason. Anyway, back to the book...I felt like Chbosky wanted to fill this book with great inspiring quotes (which he did), but he forgot to consider Charlie’s age and his intelligence. If Charlie was ten and there weren’t as many sex and drugs as there were, I think this could all work and I would like the book a lot better.

There were mentioned many serious issues - suicide, unwanted pregnancy, abortion, drugs, homosexuality, sexual abuse - but it failed to elaborate them further or give them any conclusion. They were forgotten very soon, or dismissed right away with Charlie’s words “I think this is bad/wrong/really sad.” I mean, if you write about those things, give them the kind of attention they deserve! Again, I felt like the author just threw all those things in to appeal to bigger public. It was frustrating.

Okay, now onto good things. I like the song near the beginning of the book - the suicide note. That was the only time this book brought tears into my eyes. While I found the middle of the book a bit boring, I got sucked into near the ending- approximately the last 10%. We figure out Charlie’s memory he unconsciously tried to keep hidden. Again, it’s a big issue and I think it would be better if it wasn’t dismissed that fast. I think this could be a problem, since a lot of kids have these issues but when they read this book, it just doesn’t give them appropriate attention. And they might think that if Charlie has accepted his past that fast, what’s wrong with them that they keep struggling with it? It’s a bit unrealistic to just forgive everyone they ever hurt you in a few month’s time, especially when they hurt you that bad. Sometimes it can take years to heal, to accept yourself, both your past and your future, and I wish this book would say that. But then, I guess it could be inspirational to kids who feel alone in the world and if it gives them hope, then that’s worth a lot. Since I was one of those lonely kids, maybe if I read it a few years back, I would like it more than I do now. Now I’m more of a “filter”, even if I want to “sponge” the book, I can’t help myself :)


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