The Perks of Being a Wallflower (Stephen Chbosky)

Rating: [rate 4.5]

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky “And in that moment, I swear we were infinite.”

It’s a 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, family dramas, and new friends. The world of sex, drugs and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, where all you need is that perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite.– blurb from the back of the book

I’ve been trying to find this book for almost a year but always failing. This is just like The Virgin Suicides…a copy keeps evading me, until that day at National Bookstore when I finally spotted a copy of this. I bought it immediately, savoring the idea that I finally have this book. :P

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is an epistolary novel, filled with letters from Charlie who seems to be writing to you, the reader, because “she said you listen and understand and didn’t try to sleep with that person at that party even though you could have.” Charlie begins to tell you of his adventures during his freshman year of high school, of how his friend Michael kills himself, on how he met his friends Patrick (aka Nothing) and Sam. Every letter is filled with stories of his experiences with his family (who is actually quite normal), his friends and their encounters with drugs, alcohol, smoking and sex. The letters are honest, with the intention of delivering what really happened to Charlie, his observations about the things around him, and his way of trying to “participate” and not at the same time. The novel wraps up quite nicely, tying up the loose threads that hang from the plot and ending with a nice goodbye with Charlie, who I have gotten to know and like for the past two days I’ve been reading it.

I have to admit, however, that the situations that happened to Charlie’s life can’t really apply as much in the country, especially with how conservative Filipinos are as compared to the Americans. Aside from that fact, The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a good read because you get an instant connection with the protagonist. His family is not the dysfunctional family that I expected it to be…in fact, it’s quite normal, albeit with some quirks. Charlie’s letters are sincere, and you know that even if things are happening around him that makes him cry (and yes, he cries a bit too much), he still finds a way out of it. You can see that he wanted to protect his friends and be there for them, and protect and love his family as well. Charlie, in a way, acts as a mirror to all of us, who tries to find himself in a world where it’s easy to lose yourself in everything around. Charlie’s illness (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, I think! :p), but this illness is what Chbosky used to wrap things up in the end…that to really know yourself, you’ve got to be honest with yourself. And even if you have a really bad past, it will still be your choice with if you would let this bad past rule your life. You have a choice.

Good book. Not exactly the best, but really good. :) This would be up for re-reads. :)