Hi everyone! I'm back from a small break in London, and I have two books to add to the "read" pile. The first book is a little something by Stephen Chbosky that you might just have heard of ;)
I'm not going to "review" The Perks of Being a Wallflower, per say. I feel that now a film has been released and the world and it's mother has been introduced and made aware of it, it would be a bit futile. I am, however, going to discuss it. Perks... if anything else, is a book to be discussed.
This is not the first time I have read Perks of Being a Wallflower. I was first given it in year 8 and I read it, and then I moved on to the next on my list. I forgot about it. Having now re-read the book, I'm not sure what was going on in my head at that point in time, because I'm not sure how anyone can just "move on" after reading this book! It raises too many questions and issues!
For anyone who has yet to read this book, it covers the themes of bereavement, suicide, domestic violence, friendship, drug use, sexuality, child abuse and depression. There are also indirect themes of trust, intelligence, and learning difficulties. (I want to say something else, but feel my own interpretation of an indirect theme could cause offense to some, as I don't know enough about it to claim it with any confidence. Some may know what I'm babbling about!).
Charlie is the youngest child of his family, writing to an unknown adult in his diary. He is starting a new year at school after his best (and only) friend has taken his own life during the Summer. At the beginning of the book, Charlie is presented to the reader as a boy capable of very deep, intelligent thoughts, but he struggles to articulate them. One of the best parts of this book, for me, was seeing how this changed as a teacher gave Charlie extra reading assignments. Run-on sentences decreased, vocabulary diversified and Charlie's expressionism evolved. It was very clever and I really enjoyed it.
Lonely and eternally analytical of situations, Charlie reaches out to befriend a group of older "misfits" at his school, who bring him into their circles and "expose him to all this great stuff". Very soon, Charlie experiences love (in many forms), acceptance, escapism and the emotional power of music. But what is he escaping? Why is he always so "sad"?
It is on this point that my only complaint with the book exists: The use of "sad". Charlie is nothing but "sad". Never "lonely", never "morose", never "nostaligic", "whistful", "wanting". It seemed out of sync to me that while all other points of Charlie's expression were developing, he was only ever a three letter word. Of course, this was probably a conscious choice by the author, considering the ending's reveal, but all the same it seemed a little unbelievable in an otherwise fully believable character study.
And so to the end... it is here that I have to question myself at year 8. I'm not sure how I could have read this and then forgotten about it so easily. In all honesty, I didn't like it. It is an end horrific in nature, and leaves you with a bitter aftertaste for a book you hoped so much had a happy ending. I think we all knew Charlie was naive to the point of ignorant (Micheal's poem, for instance, was one of the most uncomfortable things I have read in a long time) but to know he was so... manipulated. That his trust, given too freely, was so abused... Well, I struggled to feel "right" for a day or so, because I was quite upset. I was actually quite angry! The book made me realise that I, myself, am probably too trusting of people who don't have my best interests at heart. That's not something I want to learn through my reading, all told!
So let's have a quick round up - The Perks of Being a Wallflower is an amazingly well written piece of YA fiction with some weighty themes. I would love to know your own reactions to the ending. I am also wondering how the film deals with it... I might have to rent it soon :) But for now, I'm going to make a cup of tea because I'm getting worked up again. I didn't like this ending, but it was an end that was coming from the first page. It was laid out in the first few paragraphs. I just didn't see it - and isn't that the point?
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The Perks of Being a Wallflower - Review(ish)
Emma is a designer living in Bristol, UK. A self-confessed stationery addict, book lover and TV sci-fi geek, she enjoys sketching zombie-eyed women and finding her next source of inspiration in the pages on the bookshelf.