By Caitlin Chciuk
“[You’re] a wallflower. You see things. You keep quiet about them. And you understand.”
In Stephen Chbosky’s iconic novel “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” protagonist Charlie has a lot to say about the world around him. A coming-of-age novel, “Perks” follows Charlie’s freshman year as he tries to find his place among his family, friends, and peers. It is a powerful story of love, friendship, and the perception of self.
In place of his family, who he feels he cannot truly count on, Charlie creates incredible friendships with Sam and Patrick, two seniors at his high school. In Sam and Patrick, Charlie discovers the love and friendship that his life has been missing. Throughout he and his friends’ exploits he musters a sense of self.
While this book has been compared to “Catcher in the Rye” by J.D. Salinger – both have protagonists who comment on the world around them – “Perks” has a very distinct narration style. Charlie is blunt, human, and real, but somehow innocent as well. His way of seeing everything in his life is different from the main characters in other young adult books. Readers watch Charlie grow from innocent and nervous to thoughtful and jaded as the book goes on. Told exclusively through letters to an anonymous recipient, the novel gives readers the feeling that Charlie could be talking to anyone.
The book is currently being made into a movie. At the moment, the movie is on limited release until October 5. However, the book is written in such a way that it is very easy to read and doesn’t take long to finish. Charlie is memorable character, providing both depth and brevity in his letters. If you’re looking for a quick read that will leave you thinking, “Perks” is the book for you.