GOODREADS FOR GOOD BOOKS
I belong to a reading challenge group on @goodreads (not sure if I mentioned this in my last book review of Judy Blume’s In An Unlikely Event already) and September’s book is The Perks of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. I usually read my books via my iPhone or the Fire HD 6 (getting rid of that and getting an iPad mini soon), but I find a lot of distractions with reading from those devices, mostly with Candy Crush Soda (yeah, I’m hooked like a fool), so I decided to head to Barnes and Noble and get a hard copy of the book so I could spend Labor Day weekend reading without being distracted.
CHARLIE AND THE LETTERS
The protagonist tells the story via a letter he (Charlie) is writing to someone but we don’t know who. He starts his letter off with the date and Dear Friend. He explains in his first letter why he’s writing the letters but doesn’t give a clue as to who the person is. Even at the end of the book, we don’t know how the person is he’s writing to, but it doesn’t matter. By the mere fact that he starts each letter with Dear Friend we become that person he is confiding in, and that’s what he’s doing in each of these letters, confiding in us.
We follow Charlie through a year of school (freshman year when we meet Charlie). He introduces us to his friends Patrick, Sam (Patrick’s sister), Bill (Charlie’s English teacher who thinks the world of Charlie), Charlie’s sister, brother and parents and those he comes in contact with. We learn secrets of these people, things that happen to them that only Charlie can share with us and things that happen to Charlie that he can only share with us. There are some things he won’t tell us, which is fine.
THINGS WE LEARN ABOUT CHARLIE
-Patrick (high school senior) is gay and having a secret affair with Brad, the star quarterback of the school
-Charlie’s sister (high school senior) gets pregnant and has an abortionCharlie has a crush on Sam (but you’ll have to read the book to find out what happens with those two)
-Charlie takes LSD, has taken up smoking cigarettes and weed and drinks at times
-Charlie gets a girlfriend and loses that girlfriend and his friends in the process (you have to read the book to understand it more).
We learn how dysfunctional Charlie’s family is but not in a disturbing way. More in a normal dysfunctional way, where the sister hates the brother at times. Father ignores the son at times. No likes Charlie at times. But mostly, we grow to like Charlie right away and hope for the best for him.
ONCE A WALLFLOWER ALWAYS A WALLFLOWER
Although Charlie is a wallflower by nature, he still remains a wallflower in his own way throughout the book when he’s with his friends at parties or at Big Boy. He becomes part of the party while still sitting on the sidelines. He is apart of the many conversations while still sitting on the sidelines. Not physically of course. His letters are detailed that it’s like he was watching everything go down as well be apart of everything.
Charlie has a way of staying positive throughout the letters even when things are going really wrong for him because he has us to talk to. These letters are a way for him to remain sane through it all the best he can.
Perks reminds me of my high school days and how simple things really were then. Charlie begins realizes this too through the book.
CONFUSION FOR ME TO BE HAD
There were some things I didn’t understand since the book is written between 1991 and 1992. For instance, the time Charlie comes home to find his sister watching Gomer Pyle. Gomer Pyle was in the 70’s. The author fails to tell us if the sister is watching via TVLand or another station that plays old shows. Doesn’t it matter? Yeah, it does to me, but then again, I’m probably being too particular.
Charlies bring up VHS tapes, but I had remembered this was the early 90’s and that’s what we had then. He talks about writing letters; again, the 90’s and email was not known or used widely then.
I don’t find the 90’s as being that long ago and reading this book really made me realize how primitive (compared to today’s standards) we were. In essence, pen and paper were the tools of the day. Not Facebook, not emails, not Twitter, but pen and paper.
There is a point in the book that Charlie is given a typewriter by Sam..a typewriter. Again, it’s the time period. I still think typewriters are great.
Some have Said that Charlie is this generation’s Holden Caulfield from Catcher In The Rye and I strongly disagree. Holden was a rebel from the beginning; Charlie was a loaner and never did become a rebel in my opinion.
This book will resonate with anyone of any age and I feel it will become a favorite among those that are teenagers now when they get older, like Judy Blume books are with us adults now.