First Lines: Dear friend, I am writing to you because she said you listen and understand and didn’t try to sleep with that person at that party even though you could have. Please don’t try to figure out who she is because then you might figure out who I am, and I really don’t want you to do that.
I kid you not, this book has been on my Goodreads to-read list since 2008 and I’ve only now actually read it. And the only reason I even did that was because of the movie news about it. (If you don’t know, they’re turning it into a movie starring Logan Leman and Emma Watson.) I kept hearing about the movie, but I didn’t know enough about the book to follow the news. Thus, I had to read this.
Charlie is a freshman in high school who really doesn’t say or do much. He likes to sit back and watch people, to try to figure them out. Then he meets Patrick and his sister Sam, who quickly become his best friends. As Charlie begins to fall for Sam, who falls for another guy, Charlie learns that life isn’t simple or easy.
The story is told through letters to an anonymous stranger that Charlie overheard someone talking about. It’s sort of strange to get used to, but once you find the flow, it’s just fine. It definitely made it easy to find stopping points.
The story was good. It wasn’t great and it wasn’t my favorite, but it was good. Charlie is generally a likable kid, but sometimes, he just lets people walk all over him and it’s so hard to respect him after that. But I really liked Sam and Patrick and seeing their struggles.
I’m curious to know what the perks of being a wallflower actually are. There didn’t seem to be many perks at all, unless you count how good a listener Charlie was. Otherwise, Charlie was suffering from anxiety, mental breakdowns, loneliness, being invisible to people, and drugs. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. I mean, I tend to be a wallflower myself, so I was really looking for something profound about how awesome it was to be a wallflower. Didn’t happen.
Speaking of being profound, I think this book tried too hard to be profound. Many times, Charlie started getting philosophical and I would mentally skip those parts because they were just dry and sometimes, at least to me, didn’t make much sense.
Overall, it’s not bad. Give it a whirl if you want. Especially if you want to see the movie, because this may help you follow it. I’m not exactly sure how they’re going to go about narrating the movie or how they’re going to deal with some of the issues the book brings up.
On a side note, this was written in the early 1990s, so there are references to mix tapes, video rental stores, and VHS tapes. And no cell phones. That was the weirdest one to remember we didn’t have. They’ve become so ubiquitous that I forgot there was a time we didn’t have them. And how’s that for an awesome word? Ubiquitous.