Length of Book: 213 pages
Type of Book: YA / Coming of Age Story
Format: Library Book
Release Date: February 1, 1999
I read this book because: Emma Watson is one of my favorite young female actresses. I found out she would be playing the role of Sam and wanted to prep for the movie by reading the book before it’s 2012 debut (release date still undetermined).
Synopsis: Charlie is a lonely high school freshman who begins high school shortly after the loss of one of his closest friends. He writes letters to an anonymous person about the ups and downs of his life.
I picked up The Perks of Being a Wallflower from the library and immediately began reading during my lunch break. I was drawn to Charlie’s character, who is so young and spastic, because he reminded me of exactly what it felt like to be a freshman in high school. While I usually prefer books with strong female characters, I adapted quickly to Charlie’s scattered storytelling ways. The format of the story is a series of letters written to an anonymous person that he has never met; the letters were hands-down one of my favorite aspects of the book. Chbosky brilliantly thought out his character development of Charlie; when we’re first introduced to him, he is choppy, disorganized, and young. Throughout the story, Charlie’s writing improves and the improvement in his storytelling abilities made me latch onto him even more. His honesty, purity, and simplicity completely drew me in – I felt like Charlie was such a relatable character. I couldn’t help but feel like I would try to befriend this guy if I were in high school with him.
He struggles with getting a grip on reality and being a loner. As a reader, you are aware that something has gone down in his past that he’s not divulging. I wanted to be the anonymous friend that wrote letters back to Charlie. I wanted to be able to tell him everything was going to be okay. Thankfully, Charlie finds a solid group of kids to connect with. They appreciate him for his quirkiness. As Charlie says in the book, he quits being a thinker and becomes a participant. Of all the friends Charlie makes, I felt most connected to Patrick and Sam. They weren’t perfect people and were also experiencing some pretty crappy things, but their nurturing of Charlie is what made me love them most.
Not every aspect of this book was easy to read. I strongly disliked Mary Elizabeth’s character when Charlie began going on a few dates with her. Maybe it was that Charlie so easily went along with everything, even though he was unhappy, that made me dislike her the most. While Mary Elizabeth was an annoying character, I shuddered when I read the few paragraphs about what really happened to Charlie. My eyes kept skimming the paragraphs, hoping that I was wrong about what I thought I was reading. Be prepared to encounter a few difficult topics throughout the course of this book.
Ultimately, this book is a four star kind of book for me. I’m thrilled I read it, loved the coming of age story about this high schooler in the early 90s, and will eagerly see the movie. However, I’m not sure it’s a book that I’d pick it up to read over and over again. I will definitely be seeing the movie though. I’m hoping that Emma Watson blows me away in her role as Sam. Though she’s played a very innocent, kind role as Hermione, I think she’s going to take a giant leap forward as Sam. This character is so multi-dimensional and I think she’s going to be able to fulfill all my expectations and depict the character I had in my head very well. I’ll make sure to update you guys once I’ve seen the movie…