The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
|The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky|
|Reviewer: Jill Murphy|
|Summary: Charlie tells his story in letters to an unnamed "friend" in this coming-of-age story about fitting in, about independence, and about difference. It's honest, heartfelt and sincere and it doesn't duck any issues. We can't imagine anyone who wouldn't love it.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 240||Date: January 2013|
|Publisher: Simon & Schuster|
|External links: Author's website|
Charlie is very bright but also very shy, introspective and socially awkward. He has a loving and close family who, by and large, support him and give him good advice. But this life lark is a tricky thing. High school is particularly tricky. Having been told to try to participate more, Charlie approaches Patrick and Sam at a football match. They're a couple of school years above him, but they take to him nevertheless and introduce him to their group. He writes about his experiences with his new friends, his family, his favourite teacher and his therapist in letters to a person he's heard about but never met.
And as he writes, we watch Charlie embark on a journey that will see him try to leave the safety of the sidelines and take control of his life...
The Perks of Being a Wallflower is given a welcome reissue here to coincide with a film adaptation starring Harry Potter's Emma Watson. It's such a lovely story, full of wonderful characters who are all to some degree misfits in one way or another. Charlie, who is socially awkward, finds he's accepted by this bunch of disparates led by Sam and Patrick and he's finally able to express himself honestly and experience - even if often vicariously - all sorts of "normal" teen activities: getting drunk, getting stoned, dating, going to parties, dancing. And he becomes involved in their problems - Patrick's boyfriend is a jock and firmly in the closet, Sam's boyfriend doesn't treat her well.
Even so, something keeps him firmly in the wallflower camp. For much of the book, Charlie remains an observer. Why is this? And will the answer give him the confidence to truly participate?
Charlie's voice is an engaging one. I don't usually like epistolatory novels but here, the letters serve to emphasis Charlie's isolation and it's an effective tool. This story is about a coming-of-age, about fitting in, about independence, and, above all, about taking charge of one's own destiny. It's truly moving and I can't imagine a person who wouldn't like it.
Charlie's social awkwardness isn't on the autism spectrum but The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time by Mark Haddon features a boy with Asperger's who has similar problems fitting in. I think you'd also enjoy After the Flood by L S Matthews.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky at Amazon.com.
Like to comment on this review?
Just send us an email and we'll put the best up on the site.