Tuesday, 18 September 2012

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

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.
This is the story of what it's like to grow up in high school. More intimate than a diary, Charlie's letters are singular and unique, hilarious and devastating. We may not know where he lives. We may not know to whom he is writing. All we know is the world he shares. Caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it puts him on a strange course through uncharted territory. The world of first dates and mixed 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. Through Charlie, Stephen Chbosky has created a deeply affecting coming-of-age story, a powerful novel that will spirit you back to those wild and poignant roller coaster days known as growing up.

The Cover: This isn't the same cover as my copy, but mine is the movie poster, hence my not using it in the blog. The two pictures in the corner is heartbreaking on first glance, but even more so once you read the story. The font is sprawling and covers the cover completely which, if we consider the saying that life is a blank canvas, becomes immediately more significant as you read on.

The Characters: Okay, I'll only talk about Charlie, Patrick and Sam because otherwise I'll end up writing pages and pages of basically 'fangirl' content. Charlie is the narrator and he's quiet and funny and really unprecedented. No-one acts as eccentric as he seems to in real life (not that I've come across anyway) and although it's normal to find such characters in books, none are portrayed in such a truly awkward light. He's often criticised by his peers and isolated and I think it's a fascinating way to look at a character. Patrick is hilarious. He's also the cement of the trio in my opinion, he's honest and he's a good person. he's not a saint or anything, but he's as good as any teenager can be. The best thing about the way Patrick is portrayed in this is that we see his darker moments and we (I certainly did) feel overwhelming empathy for him. I feel the same about Sam, really. The thing that sets her apart is the way she seriously challenges Charlie and won't accept any weak answers or anything less than his honest opinion on his worst character traits. The most interesting character in the book is actually the reader. We're adressed as 'friend' by Charlie, and we're told that we are someone that is kind and someone that will listen - which is a very good compliment.

The Setting: It's set in Pittsburgh, which I don't really know much about. The main places of the novel are Charlies house, the Big Boy and the Tunnel. The most extraordinary part of the book happens on the way to the Big Boy while they are going through the tunnel. I won't write what happens to keep it a surprise, but I will say that it made me feel a surge of reverence that I usually reserve for Looking for Alaska.

The Overall Story: The obvious overall story is about Charlie becoming more involved as he goes through a year in high school, but to me it's more about finding out what is wrong with Charlie. We know that he's a little bit off and a little weird, but as the novel progresses, we see that there really is something in the character that we need to uncover. I don't want to say too much to avoid spoilers, but it is heartbreaking. Truly, truly heartbreaking. But it's an incredible read that leaves you feeling hopeful and (beause of the constant compliments to you as a reader) feeling quite good about yourself.

Brilliant. I definitely recommend! 5 out of 5!

- Elsie

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