I first got to know about “The Perks of Being A Wallflower” because of the film adaptation starring the amazing Emma Watson. By the time I got to the book, it felt like another regular coming-of-age book offering everything expected from a young adult fiction…and nothing more.
Written by Stephen Chbosky, the story features main protagonist Charlie, an awkward teenager suffering from schizophrenia and his freshman year in high school. The plot was strewn together through a series of letters Charlie penned for an anonymous friend, where he revealed his struggles and emotions as he embarked on new friendships, particularly with best friends Sam and Patrick, and his initiations into youth and adulthood, dabbling with love, sex and drugs.
The feeling I had happened when Sam told Patrick to find a station on the radio. And he kept getting commercials. And commercials. And a really bad song about love that had the word “baby” in it. And then more commercials. And finally he found this really amazing song about this boy, and we all got quiet.
Sam tapped her hand on the steering wheel. Patrick held his hand outside the car and made air waves. And I just sat between them. After the song finished, I said something.
“I feel infinite.”
And Sam and Patrick looked at me like I said the greatest thing they ever heard. Because the song was that great and because we all really paid attention to it. Five minutes of a lifetime were truly spent, and we felt young in a good way.
This book is no doubt a breeze to get through with its simple, straightforward narrative. Yet what really bugged me throughout was the style of the language used to write the story – short, fragmented sentences that are at times repetitive, such as the example below:
And we were talking about things that seemed important at the time. And we were looking up that hill. And then Patrick started running after the sunset. And Sam immediately followed him. And I saw them in silhouette. Running after the sun. Then, I started running. And everything was as good as it could be.
As much as Charlie had mental problems, he was no poor student. In fact, he was described to be a straight As student topping his high school literature class but ironically was unable to write proper sentences in his letters. The childlike writings, I felt, did the book disservice by making it an impediment to smooth reading.
Amidst its shortcomings, there were times the book conjured up images so beautiful it reminded me of the best memories of my bittersweet growing-up years.
Did you enjoy reading “The Perks of Being A Wallflower?” Share your comments below!