Author: Stephen Chboksy
Everyone has a different story in high school. Everyone travels through this unchartered territory of high school, dealing with first dates, family drama and new friendships in their way. There are so many books based on the same theme and plot even then Stephen Chbosky manages to stand out amongst the pile. Banned in many schools and libraries, ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower‘ portrays a bold and sensitive story about a boy who feels too much for his age and is trying to fit in.
The book discusses every aspect of the life of a high school kid, which involves sensitive topics like drugs, homosexuality, sexual abuse and other explicit content. Through this book Stephen Chbosky takes the readers on a wonderful journey of life that is, growing up.
Charlie, the protagonist of the story is a sophomore kid who is labelled as a wallflower by his new friends. “He’s a wallflower. You see things. You keep quiet about them. And you understand.” Charlie oozes sincerity and innocence throughout the story. The novel is addressed to an anonymous ‘friend’ and is a compilation of the many letters Charlie writes to the friend. It seems as if Charlie maintains a journal, the only difference is that the narration is addressed to some unknown person who we never eventually know the name of. Through his letters, Charlie describes the various things that have happened in the past and continue to haunt him daily. The death of his aunt, suicide of his only best friend and newly made friendships in school suddenly seem too overwhelming. His mind always makes him want to disappear into the wind and settle everything for good. However, he suffers from a catatonic breakdown, unravelling some heart aching truths about life which eventually fills the missing pieces of the puzzle and completes his story. Stephen Chbosky ends the novel on a note that the road towards self-discovery is cobbled with stones but the only way to know the truth is to take that road.
A plainly written narrative, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, stills manages to make the readers step into the shoes of Charlie and feel his character. A lot of the things that happened to Charlie may never have happened to you, but while reading this book it will feel as if they had. Such is the strength of Chbosky’s writing. It is the kind of book you wish you had read as an adolescent. It makes you wonder about the people that went through these same issues as Charlie and the people around them. The book is adorned with many beautiful quotes that have the power to make you sit back and think about your life. A few favourites are:
“We accept the love we think we deserve.”
“And at that moment, I swear we were infinite.”
“You can’t just sit there and put everybody’s lives ahead of yours and think it counts as love.”
The Perks of Being a Wallflower is not a long read and is a page-turner. The book also has a film adaptation, directed by Stephen Chbosky himself. It’s a book you want to re-read again and can not stop thinking about!