Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Stephen Chbosky

The Perks of Being a Wallflower, written by Stephen Chbosky.

Also known as a book I've loved even before I read it.

Okay, sometimes books come into your life with such impeccable timing it is almost completely laughable--as if someone--or something just knew that you and this book needed to cross paths. I think that's the magic of books though, they can come into your life and save you or pick you up when you least expect it but need it the most.
This book did that to me.  

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Of course, I should also say, it destroyed me first.

So I will be 'reviewing' this book very differently, then again, reviewing isn't exactly what I'm doing. Reviewing a book like this, is like reviewing art, confusing and difficult. Instead I'll be talking about it. 
I've broken it down into sections to have some form of organization here. So, to anyone who has seen the movie adaption this review will contain no spoilers, but to anyone who has yet to read this book or see the movie this is a warning this review/reflection will contain 

Style Points: My feelings on the writing style 

-This book is art 

-It's told through letters documented by Charlie, as he begins his first year of high school 

-There are many ways to tell a story, you can begin with 'once upon a time', or use 3rd person, omniscient or 'All Knowing'--1st, 2nd, ect, ect., basically this book doesn't feel like a book, it feels like a conversation between you and Charlie--he tells us what he thinks and what he sees, and in that a story is composed

-This book, is unconventional and unorthodox, it does not follow any preset pattern or plot line, it is new and different-I love that, it is an incredibly artistic book 

-Individuals wholly dedicated to the 'show, don't tell' mentality will most likely loathe the way his story is told--though I find it difficult for anyone to loathe this story (though evidently, people do)

-Charlie talks to us and tells us what he needs to, we listen, maybe even understand some things he may not--slowly we see what he sees, and it's captivating 

-Eventually you will get it

-Reading this is an experience 

Summing it up: 

I loved the style of this book--I loved the way Charlie spoke and the way the story unfolded. It is different, and it is put together with creatively which I really loved--Chbosky/Charlie know how to make a few words speak louder than a paragraph of flowery words and writing.


Charlie is a very real. As a freshman, he begins to write to us chronicling his life and the lives of those closest to him. He mentions M*A*S*H, (Alan Alda's Iconic and ground-breaking TV series that started back in 1972) 

M*A*S*H (1972)

I loved that. 

He's a wallflower, he's quiet, a bit shy but he sees things that most people can't, and he notices things that others won't. 
   He sees the world with fantastic muddled-clarity, and writes to us about what he sees. The mundane turns fantastic, and within heartbreaking sadness/confusion/anger/isolation he still manages to show us hope. 

   Everything that Charlie sees/feels/thinks/believes in this book is not only uniquely 'Charlie' but it is a startlingly realistic portrayal of the lives of most teenagers. 

    Chbosky has created a character so incredibly real it seems at times that Charlie could very well be walking around. He touches on some of the hardest and most painful situations/events/experiences, that I can guarantee have touched your life in some form or another. Yet, Chbosky *PRAISE TO LORD THOR* doesn't try to act all high-and-mighty, and present us with answers to every one of those painful problems this book touches on.

   You know what? Chbosky is an author who I feel, if/when I meet him, will be just like 'us' by 'us' I mean teenagers, even just regular people who recognize that they don't have the ultimate answer that will heal you from whatever you've gone through. He really ends up presenting us with the one and only solution there is: let go, and carry on.  


   Charlie has experienced a great deal of loss in his life; his best friend, and his aunt (unfortunately he lost his aunt in more ways then one as we find out). Charlie's story mainly focuses on his present; as he begins his freshman year, but as it always does, the past comes back slowly. 

  There was always that sense of something bubbling up underneath the surface facade that Charlie held onto. There was always that foreboding feeling hovering just below the surface.  

   I love that this book touches on many difficult and controversial subjects, and that for once the problems aren't wrapped up with a quick-fix solution or even worse, ignored. 

   I loved that the problems were dealt with realistically and that the teenagers portrayed behaved how it is expected anyone would. The problems, and the effect they have on the lives of these characters aren't candy-coded. 

   The problems these teens encounter are very real and are very difficult. And they all struggle to deal with them-usually resorting to drugs/alcohol/gratification. 

   The solutions to said problems, aren't wrapped up in a bow--this isn't an open and shut book, though we are given some amount of closure and hope at the end of it. 

Example of the realistic problem:
During the Christmas party Sam takes Charlie upstairs to give him a present, where she tells Charlie that the first person who ever kissed her was a friend of her fathers. 

Chances are, if you're reading this blog you know how wrong that is and how much of an issue in society stuff like this is--then again, maybe you don't--who knows, really?  

The fact remains that issues, similar to the one above are brought up throughout the book. 

Relationship abuse, abortion, molestation, child abuse, sexual assault, even incest--all this is touched upon. But, there is no one and only answer/solution to these problems. The author doesn't pretend to know all the answers, he presents us with characters who deal with what they're given and then carry on, and this is what gives us hope. 

A slight warning and moment for Charlie. 

   The one thing I believe I should mention is that this 'story' for a lot of people isn't just a story. It mirrors the stories of many people/kids/teenagers...more than most of us know.

  Sexual assault is one of the main issues presented in this book; it is something that few people talk about, and it is something incredibly difficult to comprehend, deal with, and heal from. 

   This book, because of the content may have more of an impact on some people than others. 80% of sexual assault victims are under the age of 30. And half of that, under 18. (RAINN, 2010). It is needless to say that for some people this will bring up some issues. 

  Sexual assault occurs everywhere in society; in homes, schools, in hospitals even. Yet, so few people talk about it. This story has the potential to bring up some bad memories for anyone who has had to deal with any of the situations/experiences/events listed above, as well I believe it has a tremendous amount of potential to help anyone and everyone--regardless of your life story. 

   This book is sad, and hopeful, and comforting, and horrible. 

This story, is one that will make you sad--but it is the good kind of sad, the kind of sad that leaves you feeling hopeful. 

So to finish off this review/reflection on this book I leave you with these parting thoughts.

-This book is like art and a warm hug together, as well as a punch to the gut and a kick to the heart
-Reading this book will change your life
-This is one of those books that will stay with you; it is one of those books that will last forever 
-I recommend this book to anyone over a certain maturity level--as you know or can imagine it is a very painful book to read at times

-And, now I will sum up this entire book with a single quote

"She [the book] wasn't bitter. She [the book] was sad, though. But it was a hopeful kind of sad. The kind of sad that just takes time. ” 

[StatsFound: www.rainn.org/statistics]

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