After Charlie‘s only friend commits suicide, he starts discovering the true meaning of being a teenager. Conveniently, his newfound older and more “experimental” friends (Patrick and Sam) show him how. His coming of age journey leads him to discovering everything from drinking and smoking, to abuse and drugs, to homophobic relationships and sex, and even to an abortion.
But in Charlie’s eyes, he doesn’t make growing up sound all that scary or bad. At least not in all the confessional letters that he writes to the anonymous stranger aka “friend”.
In the beginning, Charlie introduces you, the reader, to his life as a freshman in high school. It doesn’t take more than a few pages to realize that this boy is what the title would suggest – a wallflower. Yes, the young boy is awkward. Yes, he seems like he’s trying to fit in. And yes, without realizing it, Charlie is also sinking into some sort of depression. But because his letters are so honest and raw, it’s easy to pinpoint what ignites it.
Think of it as a lost boy taking you on a journey of teenage discoveries. Or think of it as you reading an emotionally and mentally fragile boy’s diary.
Some of his “discoveries” may be too honest to bear. Some are thought provoking. Some will make you want to reach out and hug him (especially when he talks about his “Aunt Helen”). But we won’t spoil it for you. We will, however, throw in a quote from Charlie:
I remembered this one time that I never told anyone about. The time we were walking. Just the three of us. And I was in the middle. I don’t remember where and I don’t remember when. I don’t even remember the season. I just remember walking between them and feeling for the first time that I belonged somewhere.
Our take? For a young character, his voice is pretty powerful – and he “writes” well. His thoughts are fleeting, some are all over the place so don’t be surprised if you had to turn the page to reread stuff. We would know. We did that too! Some things he says/writes have quite a bit of humour in them so prepare to laugh and think, “Silly boy!”
But it’s not until the very end that you find out what made him the way he is.
If you were ever a “wallflower” in school, then you’d more or less understand where he’s coming from e.g. being alienated, trying to grow into the life of a teenager, making mistakes, making choices, struggling to fit in with friends who are reckless, the works. Though we have to say that it’s not a book we’d read to kids for a bedtime story just yet, we do think that it’s going to be the next coming-of-age classic.
“The Perks of Being a Wallflower” is available at a bookstore near you for only RM34.95.