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.
So happy to read your perspective on it! My friend is an English teacher and has it as an option to read in her 10th grade class…as I mentioned… but I couldn’t really figure out where it fell in terms of why it would be appropriate for school … not because I was terribly offended by it but just because I would’ve liked to have seen Charlie grow somehow. I guess he did somewhat, as he learned to “participate” but it was just too easy for me to put down! Lol .. not saying much as most of the books I can’t put down are ridiculous YA books aimed at teenage girls! hahaha!
I definitely agree with your opinion on the ending though! I felt like it was just thrown in as like, oh we’ve already covered all the other hard-hitting topics, lets throw molestation in too!
Thanks for participating in the link up and chat! 🙂
Maybe just the fact that all this intense bad stuff happens in the book, but it’s not the end of the world – life goes on. High schoolers tend to imbue everything with a big dose of drama, so maybe it’d be useful in that regard? I don’t know. All this stuff happens and yeah, it’s horrible, but whichever character it happens to deals with it and eventually moves on with their life. Even Charlie. There are worse lessons for high schoolers to take away from a book, I think.
Looking forward to the next book & chat! 🙂
I’m actually really glad you disagree. It’s always refreshing to hear another persons view on books. I just can’t get over that ending – it may have gotten a slightly better rating from me if the ending hadn’t been totally lame.
Thanks! And yeah, the ending was lame. Definitely my biggest beef with the story.
I’m glad you had a different perspective than the rest of us. I think that’s the best part of a book club… when people can bring a different opinion to the conversation.
Agreed! I’m interested to see what the next book will be. 🙂
I’m really glad that you had a different opinion from the rest of the grouop. I still really want to read it out of sheer curiosity, but the movie really wasn’t bad. It was intense at times and a bit hard to handle in that you care for Charlie a lot, but it really was a good film about high school and the not so pretty side of it. So glad you joined us for book club and I’m really excited for next month! Hope you have put in some good suggestions; you seem to know a ton about good books 🙂
Thanks! I’d give the book a try; it’s a really quick read, so you’re not losing much even if you don’t end up liking it. I will still see the movie eventually, I just don’t feel like shelling out theater price for it (nor do I expect I could convince the boy to go see it – no explosions?! Lol).
I think I put in 5-6 suggestions for next month, haha.
i definitely agree with your opinion that this is a YA book. i hate when people think books are inappropriate for teenagers because of subject matter like sex and drugs; that’s just naive.
Right?! High school is exactly when kids are starting to get into that stuff, if not earlier depending on environment. I think books that show how others deal with those situations (and any inherent consequences) are completely appropriate for that age group.