Published in 1999 The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky is one of those books that I pick up just being attracted by its title and then flip on through the pages as I love to read the story or the language or yearn to know more about the protagonist. It is an epistolary novel where the protagonist Charlie is writing a letter to a unanimous reader.
“August 25, 1991
I am writing to you because she said you listen and understand and didn’t try to sleep with that person at that party even though you could have. Please don’t try to figure out who she is because then you might figure out who I am, and I really don’t want you to do that.”
It is like the Diary of Anne Frank even though there she was writing it for none but to share her thoughts or preserve them in the pages of a diary.
Here Charlie tells his adolescent stories, not every detail of it but some important chunks of his life. These are enough to frame a complete picture to know him and why he is considered a wallflower. Charlie is a shy introvert and self-absorbed boy. But Charlie tries his best to be like others, his friends.
When the novel begins Charlie is 15 years old and he is excited about starting high school. But two traumas haunted him- the suicide of Michael Dobson, his only friend from middle school and the accident of his aunt Helen.
Charlie is not like his sister or his brother but anyhow in the new school, he befriends Patrick and Sam, two seniors. He even grows a special liking for Sam though Sam has a boyfriend. Charlie’s English teacher encourages Charlie’s passion for reading and writing and also guides him in his life.
The book catches glimpses and relationships in American cultures, music, sports, the role of media, fashion etc. Again sensitive themes like mentioning-of-sexual abuse, drug, sexuality, relationships…all are well explored through a self-development boy’s spectacular sensitivity.
It is a coming-of-age novel in the sense Charlie moves on towards his growth and self-development. Charlie does not want to be a wallflower. He wishes to be accepted by others and be part of society. He wants to belong overcoming his suppressed traumas. It is Charlie’s journey to maturity.
It is a wonderful attempt on the part of Stephen Chbosky to weave the episodes of Charlie’s life in the pages of a diary and knit a complete story of coming-of-age teenage life. I can suggest this book to every teenager as well as adults who were once teenagers.
Hi, I’m Munmun here and welcome to my book blog. I’m an English Teacher. But more than that I love to read books and write down my thoughts. I feel we can change the world by circulating the introspections of great columnists throughout the world. You are free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.