Book Review: The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Title: The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Author: Stephen Chbosky

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

Shelf: Read-in-2012, Young-Adult, Contemporary, 3-out-of-5, Released-in-2010, Kindle-eBook

Synopsis: “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 years 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 Charlie 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.” (Taken from Goodreads)

– – – –

I’m not sure I really understand the hype surrounding this story. Charlie was a character that I came to dislike throughout the book with his incessant whinging and crying. I get it, Charlie is meant to be autistic … but it got to a point where his character became so unbearable that I had to put down my kindle for a few hours so I wouldn’t throw it across the room.

While I’m not saying the whole book was horrible (I did give it three stars), the main character was what made my rating go down. Yes, I’m aware that I’m in the minority of people who do not love and worship this book like it’s the most amazing piece of literature on earth that defines our generation – and I don’t even care. While I understand that Chbosky created Charlie as a character that we’re meant to root for and relate ourselves to – I found it increasingly hard to because I found him to be a very 2D character.

For a 16-year-old boy, he sure didn’t act like it. [What 16-year-old boy does not know about masturbation. Did he just tune out completely during sex-education class every time? Please.] He was extremely emotionally unstable, and the reason was not explained until the very last part of the book. It just felt forced and unbelievable, like Chbosky realised at the last minute that Charlie’s actions needed to actually be explained.

BUT as I mentioned before, this book was not all bad. I did in fact enjoy it, even though its protagonist marred the reading experience. I did love his friendships with Sam and Patrick. (Side note: Did anyone realise that Charlie had said that Patrick’s nickname was ‘Nothing’ – except apart from saying it once or twice, no one ever brings up that name again? What was the point in introducing that name if it’s never going to be used?) What I did like about Charlie was how supportive of a friend he is. This redeeming quality made me like him a little better. I really like it when friendships just click together, and that happened in this book. (Apart from the times when Charlie kept whinging about his love for Sam.)

While not all bad, I was eventually let down by this book. I guess I was pulled in by the hype surrounding the movie, and went in with really high expectations. While not my favourite book of 2012, I did enjoy it overall (when Charlie was continuously whinging).

– – – –

The movie trailer on the other hand, makes Charlie seem completely different to his character in the book. I think I’ll give the movie a try.

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