I didn’t read The Perks of Being a Wallflower when everyone else did – in high school when it was so relevant and deep and whatever, when every girl wanted to be Sam, but could empathize more with Charlie. By “every girl,” I really just mean me, because I know that if I had read this at the tender age of sixteen, I would have wanted to be Sam, but in reality I was a Charlie, right down the amazing friends who graduated earlier than I did.
This is a book about navigating pain. The pain of death, growing up, “family problems,” friend problems, relationship problems and personal problems all during the first year of high school – a unique pain in and of itself. Charlie dances between confronting pain, subjecting himself to it and running from it before it ultimately culminates, somewhat freeing him from its shackles in a surprising twist at the end of the epilogue.
It’s an interesting little book, a fast read and an accessible one. My one main complaint is that I can only see it through my post college eyes, unable to compare the experience to the reaction of my pre-college ones, making me feel far away from high school instead of in the middle of it, which is where I think The Perks of Being a Wallflower breathes most easily. Despite the lovely ability to be very relatable and conjure up a youthful nostalgia for the bygone years of high school, Chbosky’s book is not meant for those of us looking back, but really those who are looking forward.
(and in case you’re wondering, yes I did read the book so I could see the movie)