Thursday, 28 November 2013

Review - The Perks of Being a Wallflower - Stephen Chbosky

The Perks of Being a WallflowerTitle: The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Author: Stephen Chbosky
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Classic
Publication: 1999
Pages: 231 Pages, Paperback
Source: Library
Rating: 3/5 Cupcakes
Content of Review: Ranting. A lot of it. Read at your own risk.
Spoilers: Yes, but it's hidden. Nothing big will be spoiled :)
Charlie is a freshman.And while he's not the biggest geek in the school, he is by no means popular. Shy, introspective, intelligent beyond his year yet socially awkward,he is a wallflower, caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it.
Charlie is attempting to navigate his way through uncharted territory: the world of first dates and mix tapes, family dramas and new friends; the world of sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, when all one requires is that perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite. But he can't stay on the sideline forever. Standing on the fringes of life offers a unique perspective. But there comes a time to see what it looks like from the dance floor.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a deeply affecting coming-of-age story that will spirit you back to those wild and poignant roller-coaster days known as growing up.
I've heard a lot about this book, it's a favourite for numerous amounts of people. I wasn't sure how I would enjoy it, though. I love contemporaries and coming-of-age stories, and this one has to be one of the most thought-provoking, emotional contemporaries out there. I really enjoyed this book, I won't say I completely loved it but it did persuade me to think about things.

What I Liked:

I love the narrator. The main character, fifteen-year-old Charlie. Through letters to a certain person, and to us, the readers, we really see the inner workings of Charlie's brain and his honest thoughts on the world around him.

Charlie is extremely sensitive. Sensitive to the feelings of other people, sensitive to not knowing answers to the questions he is constantly asking. Charlie's family don't pay much attention to him, although it's obvious that he is loved. There's his dad who keeps them in line and wants a good life for his family, Charlie's mom that loves her children but doesn't often say much; Charlie's college-aged older brother who is a talented footballer, and Charlie's older sister who is a vegan and a fighter for woman's rights. It was interesting to read about his family, the secrets they kept and the way they all interacted. 


Charlie is a wallflower. He observes situations and people, and would rather sit on the side-lines than actually participate in life. When his new English teacher becomes somewhat of a mentor to Charlie and giving him extra books to read and essays to write,  as well as help him out with his troubles and overthinking, Charlie takes Bill's advice and  decides it's time for him to navigate from the side-lines of life and start enjoying time on the dance floor. A thing that he was hesitant to do, but which ended up having amazing outcomes. 


He meets Sam, the girl he slowly falls in love. He meets her step-brother, Patrick, who is secretly gay and having a relationship with the school's most famed footballer. He starts navigating unfamiliar territory of all the highs and lows that come along with high-school life. He learns about intimate relationships, alcohol and drugs. He learns about being in love and how sometimes it's best to say something instead of just listening, like how he usually deals with a situation. 

I just love how honest Charlie is, how he is quite shy at first and how he loves reading. I loved reading about the specials bonds he made with his new friends and how lost he felt when they all went to college and left him to fend for himself. 

There were some stunning quotes in here. This book definitely takes you on an emotional-rollercoaster ride.

 Okay, moving onto the things I don't like:

This book deals with a LOT of dark issues. Sex, drugs, alcohol, depression, suicide, sexual abuse, homesexuality, rape, death, teenage pregnancy, abortion...this book has it all, and to be completely honest with you, I thought it was a bit of an overkill. These issues shouldn't be treated lightly and the author just threw them in on one page and forgot about them the rest. These issues need to be handled with in a sensitive manner and not all clumped into one book, a short book too. It honestly felt like the author had researched and put together a list of all the possible things that could ever go wrong in a teenager's life, and put them in the book.

I felt a lot of the things were unnecessary. I understand that the author was trying to create the essence of the full high school experience, but I don't think a high-schooler will face ALL these problems in their first year of high-school. I am home-schooled and although I went to high-school for three months when I lived in England I wasn't faced with any of these problems. I choose my friends carefully and I stayed away from the bad stuff.

Charlie was a complete and utter idiot at times. He starts drinking, smoking cigarettes and smoking pot. And he's merely fifteen years old. Okay, I know a LOT of teenagers apparently do this but I mean he just did everything and I honestly thought it was a bit much. When he started smoking, doing drugs and drinking I honestly wanted to slap him. Not only that, he allowed himself to be kissed by one of his homosexual friends because he thought it was "being a good friend" because the friend was going through a tough time. He can stop fights but he won't say no when a guy, wants to make a move on him. I just couldn't fathom this.

This book also just had to much issues in it for me. I was expecting a light-hearted read but there were such dark, horrifying scenes in this book that made me feel quite anxious. There is a scene when middle-grade Charlie views a guy raping a girl and his sister having an intimate moment with her boyfriend and I just felt it was so extremely wrong that he saw this at such a young age. I'm also pretty sure the guy who raped the girl wouldn't have done all that in front middle-grader.

Charlie was also always constantly crying, anything that happened, be it good or bad, he cried. I know he's witnessed and been apart of every-big-catastrophe-a-teenager-can-ever-possibly-go-through because this author really puts EVERYTHING in this book, but I didn't think it was normal for him to do that. A lot of people say he might have some learning issues of such, I'm not sure though, I think he is just naturally sensitive and naive.

Charlie also deals with anxiety in this book which I can relate to as I had anxiety quite bad, but he ended up in a mental hospital for two months due to a certain moment that had brought up a nightmarish memory from his part. *SPOILER* He's own Aunt Helen, whom he loved so dearly, which had sadly died in a car accident, had actually molested Charlie when he was a little boy. Yet he suppressed the memories because he loved his aunt. Wait, what? That was highly inappropriate and I honestly didn't think that had to be included in the story. *SPOILER* But it was certainly a shocker and I might have had a complete meltdown after reading the ending as I wasn't expecting it AT all.

Despite it's abundance of serious, traumatic issues I did enjoy this book. It had some beautiful quotes and how you must always try to stay true to yourself. This book is quite short and it is engrossing and I read it quite quickly.

To be completely and utterly honest with you, the reading experience I gained from this book could be great times but mostly traumatic. There was just too much of everything in this book. Although I liked the characters, I didn't connect with all of them. At sometimes not even Charlie which his pathetic decisions to do drugs/smoke/drink etc.

This book is a banned book, but so is The Hunger Games, I was  not expecting all these issues to be thrown in. I wish I had read more reviews on it before I read it and the ones I did read, not many people mentioned the issues the author mentions. He doesn't really deal with them, just chucks them all in the book.

I think this is a book where I would prefer watching the movie as a lot of the hectic scenes had too much detail. I regret that I read this book this year and I wish I had waited till I was about sixteen or over to read it so that I wasn't so disturbed about the things that happened. But then again, there are teenagers being surrounded by all this in their day-to-day lives. I've always chosen to be sheltered from those things and I suppose in a way it was better that I found out about what actually happens in the real world, because whether I like it or not, there probably will be a time where I will be faced with at least one of these issues.

I would recommend this book, if you think you can deal with these issues.
I didn't ADORE this book, I didn't hate it (most of the time), but I liked it. Although I feel like my innocence has slightly been ruined after having to "experience" the things Charlie did. *shudders*

I give it: 3/5 CUPCAKES



7 comments:

  1. Emma Watson looks absolutely stunning. She is going to have a great future ahead. Let us see how her fate turns out.

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  2. I was surprised at this book (NOT in a good way). I had heard SO MANY good things about it. I'm 23 years old and I still had a hard time stomaching all the content in this book. I liked the premise: the shy, caring, sensitive person who always works so hard to make people happy can also easily get bogged down with all those feelings. I TOTALLY understand that (hence, why I read the book because being a highly sensitive person myself, I reeeeeally wanted a hero to be quiet, caring too, not just perfect in every way and the chosen one like so much of today's literature has).
    But the rest of it was not impressive to me at all which was sad. I really liked certain (small) passages but otherwise, I felt overwhelmed, too much sensory overload, too much shock bombs dropped one after the other. :/

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  3. I'm so glad to read this review. Most people RAVE about this book ... whereas I just couldn't finish it. There was far too much going on and I just didn't believe in the main character OR absolutely everything crap thing he has to deal with.

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  4. Charlie, oh Charlie! You take one step towards this book and by the time you keep it down, you're just in awe. You are absolutely going to be happy about the time well spent! The way Charlie portrays his actions through words written to his friend, kept unknown, is amazingly good. He can create nightmares with rainbows! He talks so highly of Aunt Helen that you don't think even for a second that she would do something like this. But she does and he also provides you reasons why you shouldn't hate her. As your view on someone who molests, you won't end up hating Aunt Helen but you'll keep telling Charlie ( or probably yourself) why he should stop talking so highly of this woman who molested him. You're sad she dies cause she made Charlie happy and bought him two gifts and the you realize, Charlie isn't as sad as he should be. The book is really good. Try reading it and telling me otherwise. Stephen Chbosky, for the win.

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  5. The book really touched my heart, and I think it would do the same with
    every heart of a teenager or young (and not-so-young) adult, struggling
    with life, with decisions. I think it's the perfect book for every
    little girl or guy trying to find out who they really are. And for those
    who probably will never find it out, too.


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