When one of my friends from school found out about a month ago that I had yet to read The Perks of Being a Wallflower she was absolutely flabbergasted. I can’t remember her exact words, but her response was something along the lines of “WHAT?!! You want to be a teen librarian, you read tons of teen books, but you haven’t read The Perks of Being a Wallflower!? Who are you!?” In order to remedy this situation I immediately went home and placed a hold at the library on this classic teen novel.
After several weeks of waiting I finally managed to get my hands on a copy and tore through it in a manner of hours. Within the first twenty pages I could see what made this novel so special. In The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Charlie’s letters tell the story of every North American teen. Whether or not you are a jock, prom queen, stoner, geek, or a wallflower, there is at least one thing in the pages of this book that you will be able to relate to. In the course of 200 pages, Stephen Chbosky covers issues like suicide, depression, bullying, domestic violence, rape, teen pregnancy, abortion, drug use, molestation, and homosexuality.
You may be wondering, how can the author adequately address each of these issues within such a short time frame? Here in lies the genius of this novel. Rather than going into detail or offering long winded solutions for these problems, the novel assumes that readers are familiar with these issues and simply acknowledges their existance in real life through the experiences of the characters. All teens deal with these issues in daily life, whether its first hand or through people that they know, and the presence of them in The Perks of Being a Wallflower reaffirms the fact that these teens are not alone.
While I appreciated Chbosky’s focus on the daily struggles of teen life, my absolute favourite part of the novel was Charlie’s narration. Written in a series of letters, readers can’t help but grow fond of Charlie and his ability to speak honestly about every aspect of his life…even the gritty, embarrassing details. I almost wish that those letters could have continued for longer, as I became so attached to Charlie at the end of the book that I didn’t want to stop reading.
Luckily for me, I will get another dose of Charlie in the upcoming film adaptation of The Perks of Being a Wallflower! The trailer looks AMAZING, and to say that I am excited would be an understatement! I only hope that the movie is able to capture the overall depth of the book. All I can say is that if you are planning on seeing the movie, then definitely READ THE BOOK BEFORE THE FILM COMES OUT! Trust me. You won’t regret it.