It’s just happened, I’ve just finished the novel, and my most honest response to what I have read is a simple one. Shock.
In 231 pages I have read so much, learned so much, and felt so much that I feel like I’ve read maybe half a dozen books instead of having actually just read one.
Trying to write a honest book review about The Perks of Being a Wallflower is tough, because how do I adequately describe a novel that seems to be indescribable.
After his best friends commits suicide, Charlie is anxious about starting high school without the only friend he has known. Feeling unsteady with the direction his life is about to take and not feeling comfortable enough to speak to his family, Charlie turns to an anonymous, nameless Pen-Pal.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a collection of letters which Charlie writes to his “Dear Friend” documenting his days at high school, the friends he begins to make and the emotional mess he finds himself having to deal with.
Enough with the synopsis, here are my thoughts:
I first thought the novel was an insider’s perspective of what it is like to be an outsider in society, and at the same time be oblivious to the fact that you are an outsider.
Then I thought that the novel is a coming of age story, about an awkward high school boy as he navigates the swamp that is high school, emotions and girls.
But then I thought that maybe it is a story about acceptance. That in the midst of a society that seeks this apparent ideal that is perfection, there are people in society that still accept those who are unconventional.
And, then I thought that it was a story about hope. That no matter how much of an outsider you feel like, there comes a point, maybe not today or next week, but sometime where you finally reach a point of feeling a sense of belonging. No matter what you have to go through to get there, that point will come.
But then, I thought that The Perks of being a Wallflower is actually about accepting yourself. That even if you are an outsider, you are still you and you shouldn’t apologize for being whichever way you are.
Then I thought, that this is a story about judgement. That no matter what someone says about you, just because they say it, does not mean that it’s true. How someone else sees you in no way diminishes who you actually are. So let people say what they like, because they aren’t really judging you, they are judging the version of you in their head. So let them judge because what does it matter if they aren’t really judging the real you?
Right before finishing the last page I finally thought that maybe this book is really about showing the emotional effects when someone buries their truth about sexual abuse.
But then I closed the book, and messaged my friend who introduced me to this book. And then it struck me.
At the end I finally realized that The Perks of being a Wallflower is not any one of these things above, but it is all of them. The perks of being a Wallflower does not just teach you one lesson about life, but it teaches you more than a dozen lessons on life, yourself, self-esteem, boys, girls, friendship, love and high school. But mostly it teaches you that it’s okay to be you, no matter who you choose to be. And no matter if your personality makes you an outsider, at the end of the day the only person who really needs to like you, is you.
Honestly? I would recommend this novel to everyone. Whether you’re trying to work through issues with your friends, or trying to deal with someone’s latest insult towards you or you’re just looking to remember that it’s okay to be different. Then this book is for you! It is such a truthful documentation of feelings that I found myself relating to every character in some way. Not on a superficial level, but on a level where the characters feelings made me reflect upon my own similar feelings and then work through them as the characters worked through them.
“I am both happy and sad and I’m still trying to figure out how that could be”
“we accept the love we think we deserve”
“Not everyone has a sob story, Charlie, and even if they do, it’s no excuse”
There are so many quotable moments in this novel, that I feel like I’m going to be hung up on it for a while.