Book title: The Perks of Being a Wallfower
Author: Stephen Chbosky
rating: 3/5 stars
*I try to keep my reviews spoiler-free unless stated otherwise. This is one of those other times. There`s just no reviewing this book without spoilers. So don`t read this if you haven`t read the book yet and don`t want to be spoilered. Sorry!
The Perks of Being a Wallflower. A book on growing up, a Tumblr favourite, also a movie with Emma Watson, and to me personally very confusing.
It`s about a teenage boy, Charlie, and his struggles as he goes off to high school for the first time, something I`m sure most of us can identify with. There`s traumatising experiences, teen pregnancy, abuse, drugs/alcohol/smoking, homosexuality, and a whole lot of other topics that are probably considered “adult” but that teenagers do definitely face while growing up.
Last night, I tweeted this:
I`ve had that night`s sleep now, and I`m still not sure what I think of it.
To be honest, there were only two things I didn`t really expect: the background drama, and the drugs. The background drama I just didn`t see coming because of the “growing up” idea. I didn`t expect there to have been traumatising experiences that made things even more difficult. I also didn`t expect the drugs, because I don`t usually associate wallflowers/booknerds, with drugs. As someone whose almost entire group of friends consists of wallflowers and booknerds, I know almost no one who does drugs or has done them, and I have come to disassociate them with each other. Might be just me. Might be just Charlie`s bad luck.
What I did like about the book, is the overall arc of someone growing up, and not being sure how to deal with it. If you look past the drugs and trauma and everything else that happens, this is something everyone can relate to. How do you deal with feelings? How do you deal with situations that give you extreme feelings? Do you shut yourself off? Do you run away? Or do you confront them? Charlie faces this time and time again in the book, as do all the other characters. Some decide to run. Some decide to forget their feelings by getting stoned or drunk. Some try to forget their feelings by barging forward into a new situation. Sometimes this goes right and people are fine. Sometimes it doesn`t go as planned and people get hurt.
And this is what made this book interesting, the underlying theme of dealing with situations and the different ways that people do it. It showed very well that some things do work for some people but doesn`t for other people, and it showed that sometimes people deal with things the wrong way. It shows that sometimes the people around you won`t know or understand what you feel, and that it`s important to tell them to have them understand instead of keeping it in.
What I didn`t really like, was how flat the characters felt to me. While the way they behaved in terms of problems was relatable and interesting, I did think the characters themselves were otherwise very flat and similar to each other. It felt to me like they all talked a similar way, behaved a similar way, seemingly thought a similar way. Even Charlie felt like more of an empty shell most of the time, acting as the messenger to relay the story, rather than a human being. While reading, I rarely felt more than a twinge of feeling for the characters and their situations.
There`s probably more I could talk about, but these are my main thoughts about the book.
So overall, I did think the underlying theme was interesting, but the characters just didn`t interest me as much as I would have liked. A nice and neutral 3 out of 5 points.
(Bonus points though for mentioning all those books Bill gave Charlie to read. My to-read list might have grown a bit again.)