21 of 52 – The Perks of Being a Wallflower

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

The Perks of Being a Wallflower (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I read a lot yesterday and finished The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky.

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 mixed 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 Charlie 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. The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a deeply affecting coming-of-age story that will spirit you back to those wild and poignant roller-coaster days known as growing up.

I read this book when I was about 15, so I wasn’t sure whether I should count it, but I figured if I took the time out to re-read it, especially since its been 6 years, I might as well. Maybe that’s cheating, but I wanted to see if it would stand up to when I read it when my taste in books was a bit less mature. Also, the film based on the book is coming out sometime this or next year, which stars Emma Watson as Sam, so I wanted to remember what exactly the book was like since I’ll definitely be going to the film at least on opening night, if not a midnight showing.

As much as I could see it a bit silly, I still really like the book. I don’t know if Charlie is a very believable character, but you start to understand his overwhelming sweetness and naivete at the end of the book: he has a secret he’s even hiding from himself. Beyond the sweetness of the book it’s a really interesting story of a boy trying to make it in high school and somehow being pulled into a group of people much older than he is.

It is formatted as a series of letters written to a ‘friend’, someone who he actually doesn’t know but who he heard of that supposedly was a very good person and would listen. It can get quite rambly and out of place, but that’s the nature of letters I guess. Because of this nature also, it can be quite introspective which might not translate well to film. You might not be able to quite understand how Charlie is thinking. It’ll be interesting to see whether they can get the sort of inner dialogue to show on camera to portray Charlie the correct way (though maybe hopefully they’ll portray him slightly less sickeningly sweet).

I was pleased to see there were a lot of feminist undertones to the book that I didn’t quite catch when I read it the first time. Many of the characters are quite feminist and aren’t portrayed that way to demonise them. Though very few feminist issues came up, feminism was an interest to many of the female characters and Charlie reacted in certain ways because of the feminist feelings being bestowed onto him. It’s not an incredibly important part to the book, but I enjoyed seeing that.

Overall I can see why I liked the book when I first read it. It’s a bit too young for me, but like I still appreciate Harry Potter, I still appreciate Perks.


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2 responses to “21 of 52 – The Perks of Being a Wallflower”

  1. feministarising says :

    I love this book so much that I tattooed “i feel infinite.” on my left wrist. I teach middle school English and I’ve never had so many kids so interested in a book as after I got the tattoo.

  2. Noshit says :

    h! Miss Nicole, can you further elaborate or discuss further the “feminist undertones” of the book?? I’m doing a paper on Perks using the Feminist approach…your insights will really be valuable…i hope you’ll reply soon..thank you!!!

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