I somehow missed this book when it first came out. My daughter recommended it, so thank you Michelle. Actually I guess I would have to thank JK Rowling, as she wrote that other little coming-of-age story, (well more than one story, that became a series of popular films, which stars Emma Watson as one of those main characters from that story, who stars in the film adaptation of Perks, thus sparking my daughter’s interest, I’m sure.
Anyway, back to this book. I really liked it, even if it is a coming-of-age book modeled after Catcher in the Rye. I liked Catcher in the Rye, but I wasn’t crazy about it. I didn’t like it as much as others expected me (or everyone, really) to like it. But I really liked The Perks of Being a Wallflower. While both Holden and Charlie are those awkward teenagers so many can relate to, Holden was a bit too whiny for me while Charlie just accepted things.
There is a lot to like about the book…the books that are mentioned that Charlie must read, the music that Charlie uses to make great mix tapes (which is another reason that I like this book because mix tapes required a lot more work and effort than making playlists today), the TV shows, the movies, and all that is (was) cool about being a teenager back then. Yes, granted Perks has a cult following because of much of these things, many of which have their own cult following, such as Catcher in the Rye, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and Pink Floyd’s The Wall. Oh…and great quotes like this one:
“So, I guess we are who we are for a lot of reasons. And maybe we’ll never know most of them. But even if we don’t have the power to choose where we come from, we can still choose where we go from there. We can still do things. And we can try to feel okay about them.”
Coolness (or should it be hipness?) aside, what makes this book good is that Chbosky really captures teenage angst, depression, curiosity, and social adjustments. The writing is excellent: crisp, clean and captures Charlie’s voice very well. A lot of issues are packed into this tightly written book. The characterizations are spot on: realistic teenage characters with all the typical teenage dynamics and drama. Let’s not forget the humor, either. This story is packed with dry, biting and dark humor.
So, yes, I was pleasantly surprised by this book. I hope to be pleasantly surprised by the movie, too.