Friday, May 15, 2015

Book Review: The Perks of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Goodreads says:

Charlie is a freshman.

And while he's not the biggest geek in the school, he is by no means popular. Shy, introspective, intelligent beyond his years yet socially awkward, he is a wallflower, caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it.

Charlie is attempting to navigate his way through uncharted territory: the world of first dates and mix tapes, family dramas and new friends; the world of sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, when all one requires is that perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite. But he can't stay on the sideline forever. Standing on the fringes of life offers a unique perspective. But there comes a time to see what it looks like from the dance floor.

I first heard about this book in 2012 when the movie version came out.  I saw it in Wal-Mart and considered buying it but I put it back.  Last summer, I purchased a copy and it has been waiting for me to be read.

This book reminds me The Catcher in the Rye in so many ways.  I read The Catcher in the Rye some years ago when I took English 101 one summer.  Reading The Perks of Being a Wallflower felt very depressing at times, and I had to put the book down.  

We are introduced to Charlie who is struggling through his first year of high school.  The story is told through a series of letters to an "anonymous" person whom he refers to as "dear friend."  

Charlie is really intelligent but socially awkward.  He is encouraged by one of his teachers to "participate." In other words to be more social.  Charlie finds a group of friends who accept him-Patrick and Sam.  

It appears that Charlie struggles with the realities of growing up and change as his friends head off to college.  Charlie is hospitalized and it is not clear if it is for depression or some other mental disorder.
In some ways I felt that I could relate to Charlie.  I didn't always fit in and was the source of mockery due to my vision impairment and other reasons throughout school.  For the most part, I stayed to myself.  I remember being sent to the guidance counselor's office weekly and I was even matched up with two classmates to be my"buddies."  Well, that only lasted until the end of the school year.

By high school, there were a few people I hung around.  I was pretty much invisible and blended in the background.  Guys didn't pay me any attention and I didn't go to prom which wasn't a big deal to me.

I guess that you can say I'm socially awkward.  There are times when I feel like a giant sore thumb and so far behind when it comes to life experiences.  Last summer, I was informed that I wasn't hired for a job because the staff members felt uncomfortable around me and said that I didn't "participate." Even as an adult, I often feel out of place.

Even as an adult, fitting is still an issue to an extent. Dealing with life changes with friends and family is still challenging at times.  I think that readers can relate to Charlie in some way, even if you are not in high school.

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