This book packs a whole lot of hurt into a small number of pages

Written by
Stephen Chbosky in 1999

Growing up is supposed to be an adventure, building great memories and principles to live by. The Perks of Being a Wallflower is about growing up, but talks more about how much damage one can suffer at the hands of others when growing up.

Charlie is a shy, intelligent kid who has nobody to talk to, so he takes up writing anonymous letters to a complete stranger who apparently is willing to listen. Through reading the series of letters he writes over a year, he describes his experiences in high school. He meets new friends, finds out about everyone, and generally has a good time.

Despite his new friends, Charlie goes through periods of sadness and confusion, as if he’s lost a part of himself somewhere. So much so, that he has to start seeing a psychiatrist regularly (again), to try to root out the problem.

All of his friends are family are damaged and hurt in some way, all through their childhoods. His mother was abused, he watches his sister get abused. There’s homophobia, racism sexual abuse and a whole lot of other things that happen, making you wonder if there’s something in the water.

Regardless of all the damage and challenges, people carry on with their lives, coping, or grasping at the hope that something better will happen to them, and they will eventually find happiness. Pain is a lesson and a reminder that the happiness you seek is out there, and it’s worth being brave to attain some for yourself.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is an interesting look at how we cope with pain and suffering, by aiming for something better. It doesn’t have to be long, as everything is expressed thoughtfully and succinctly. I wouldn’t say it’s a fun book, but it is thought provoking.

Rating

Thoughtful and essentially innocent, it is a bittersweet story

Read this if you…

Need a bit of hope to bring a smile to your face

Don’t read this if you…

Are looking for a fairytale story

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4 thoughts on “The Perks of Being a Wallflower

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