The Perks of Being a Wallflower
by Steven Chbosky
This was the latest pick for the Blogger Book Club, and I was happy with the choice as I’d been meaning to read it anyway. And I’m going to go counter to most of the blogger gals I chatted with about it and say that I really liked it. I thought the quality of writing was excellent – the phrasing and imagery, the voice it was told in, even the setup where the storytelling happens through letters. It’s clear that Charlie (the main character) falls somewhere on the autism spectrum, and since the story is told in first person by him, it lends an interesting angle to the narrative. I liked Charlie, and found his story very engaging – both important points for me when reading a book.
My biggest issue with it (and the reason it doesn’t get the full 5 stars) is the ending. It’s a bit of a whammy, and seems thrown in there just as a way to wrap things up. It didn’t seem to make sense in the larger story, and it certainly wasn’t needed as an additional cause or reason for why Charlie is the way he is. That’s all I can really say about without giving anything away.
There was some talk in our book club video chat about how this was marked as Young Adult and shouldn’t be, and again I have to disagree with that. First of all, classifying something as young adult can mean anything from age 12 to age 25 depending on the publisher and specific story. And while I may not hand this book to a 12 year old, I don’t really see it as inappropriate for 15 and up. Sure, there’s a lot of intense stuff and some adult themes, but am I the only one that remembers some of the heavy crap they had us read in English class in high school? This is a lot less fucked up than some of the things I remember reading (One Hundred Years of Solitude, As I Lay Dying, even The Handmaid’s Tale), and a lot more relatable. When it comes down to it, it’s about a boy in high school and about issues that a lot of high schoolers will face at one point or another (if not all at the same time as in the book). I don’t think there’s a more appropriate audience than high schoolers.
I haven’t seen the movie yet, as I always like to read the book first if possible. But now that I’ve read it, I’m not sure I want to watch the movie. While the book overall is very intense and moving and even profound in places, it’s not what I would call happy or pleasant most of the time. Crammed all into an hour and a half video & audio format… I just don’t think it will be an enjoyable experience. Unless he changed a bunch of things, which is possible. I will probably watch it eventually, but likely not in theaters/for awhile.
But the book – I definitely recommend the book.
I give it 4/5 stars.