Wednesday, 3 October 2012

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

So, this is my life. And I want you to know that I am both happy and sad and I’m still trying to figure out how that could be.

Charlie is starting high school, not long after the death of his friend, Michael. Charlie is a wallflower, observing school life from the outskirts. When his advanced English teacher tells him to participate in life, things start to change and Charlie starts to live. Forming friendships and learning about girls; standing up for others and coming to terms with everything good and bad that has happened in his short life.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a collection of first experiences, told in letter form through the eyes of an intelligent yet lonely boy. In short, it is just brilliant. From page to page, emotions go from high to low. Yet the actions are nothing dramatic, this is purely the life that many go through at school. Charlie isn’t explicit in explaining his emotions, which makes it all the more heart-breaking when he writes something which indicates how lonely or depressed he is. As an adult, we understand, as a confused teenager, he can’t quite grasp what he’s feeling.

But for all the heart breaks there is happiness and humour. Warm and touching, you should definitely read the book before going to see the film. Though I am late to the party and Perks is already a cult classic, deservedly so.

The early nineties really do feel like a different era! A world without internet and mobile phones; where a mix tape is a true definition of friendship. I’m not sure Perks would be quite so convincing in the present day. Charlie’s voice is a little too young and na├»ve as a 15/16 year-old by today’s standards. They definitely don’t need sex explaining to them at that age now but back then, information was a lot more restricted and it works in an historical way. I can’t believe I’m saying 1991 counts as a historical setting but seriously, so much has changed!

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  1. I have been looking forward to your review of this. I have liked the look of the ads for the film and have been wanting to read it since. Will have to request it at the library. Great review.

  2. I was glad to see a review of this from someone whose opinion I really trust. I think I will definitely read it at some point now.

  3. Probably my favorite book of all-time. You're so right about having to view this one through a somewhat historical lense, which freaks me out, too! 1990s (when I grew up) is a different "era!?" AH!

    Charlie's voice is somewhat naive/innocent, but while some of this is due to the fact that the internet & cell phones were not around, it's also largely due to the fact that, well, I don't want to spoil anything for those who haven't read it - but his personal history explains a lot. There's a reason why he is insulated from some of these things, be it consciously or unconsciously. I think his naivety makes much more sense upon the story's conclusion than it might throughout the majority of the read.

  4. Lovely review; succinct and yet it says all I need to know! I think the release date for the movie was yesterday (in the UK). I'd love to see the film too :)

  5. I also am late to this cult favourite but with the movie coming out and all the recent press, I'm really excited to see what all the fuss is about. This definitely sounds like a touching, quirky, fun story. And I never realized it took place in the early 90's. So excited for the blast from my own past!

  6. Best review so far, before I wasn't much tempted to read this book... but I was in high school in that period (yes, no internet and no cell phones :p) AND I wasn't that popular back then... so this book may be the perfect trip down memory lane for me.


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