Review: The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

wallflowerI decided to read this book at the end of last year for this year’s TBR pile reading challenge, as the movie had created some buzz because Hermione from Harry Potter was in it, but not playing Hermione, and many people had read it for the first time. My book club was supposed to read it but we are on hiatus for the summer.

So remember when you were in high school and you thought that EVERYTHING you did was so important and every word you said was steeped in meaning? That’s kind of the vibe of this book about socially awkward Charlie, a freshman in high school, who chronicles the school year in a series of letters to an anonymous “friend.” He becomes friends with senior siblings Patrick and Sam(antha). He falls in love with Sam but she doesn’t want him to think of her “in that way.” Blah blah high school drama.

This YA novel is on the favorite list of many, and I can see why. It perfectly encapsulates how big everything feels when you’re young, and it’s chock-full of many “deep thoughts” that, if I were sixteen years old, I’d probably have underlined and/or highlighted. It covers the banalities of family life, such as sibling tensions, family get-togethers and such, but also hints at some deeper issues, such as the relationship Charlie had with his deceased aunt Helen, and his sister’s abusive relationship with her boyfriend.

As a 30-something woman, this book didn’t hold as much significance for me as it might for someone younger. Sure, I remember high school (fondly, I might add), and I’m sure that I felt back then that I was as invincible, cool and important as these kids do. You know what’s funny that I just realized? And not funny in a ha-ha way. But the book takes place in 1991-92, which was when I was in high school. I was a sophomore, a year older than Charlie, but I guess that kind of puts it a little bit closer to home for me. Charlie should be 36 years old now. I wonder how he feels when he thinks back about these days.

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