Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Well, honesty time. I am addicted to YouTube. And I don’t mean I just get on and watch funny videos of dogs skateboarding, I mean that I subscribe to people who make videos and get upset if I miss a video from my favorite subscription. I wouldn’t worry about it; it’s a pretty healthy addiction. I mean, it’s not crack right?

Anyway, one of the people I subscribe to talked about how he was cleaning out his house one day and found a box of books, one of the books being The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. He said it was his all time favorite book, the type of book he reads at least once a year. I’m a big fan of books like that so I had to check this book out.

This book is about a boy named Charlie who is just starting high school. In the book, he is writing letters to an anonymous person about his life. He tells you up front that he won’t be using people’s real names or anything, so we won’t know who he is. But by the end of the book, even if you don’t know his real name or the people he knows, you end up knowing Charlie very well.

First Line:

“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.”

Chbosky is a masterful writer. Charlie is a wonderful character. He is just a shy kid who can’t find his foothold in the world after his friend Michael committed suicide at the end of his junior high career. Charlie is one of the most innocent boys you will ever meet, a quality that is both refreshing and frustrating. He’s such the adorable little optimist.

“But I guess I did worry about it. I’ve been worrying about it ever since he told me. I look at people holding hands in the hallways, and I try to think about how it all works. At the school dances, I sit in the background, and I tap my toe, and I wonder how many couples will dance to “their song.” In the hallways, I see the girls wearing the guys’ jackets, and I think about the idea of property. And I wonder if anyone is really happy. I hope they are. I really hope they are.”

On one of the other blogs I follow, Michelle Barney (who is amazing, by the way… just throwing that out there and plugging her blog… link over there ------>), she was talking about how every story that could be told has been told. Now, it is the writer’s job to reinvent the story and tell it differently themselves, to offer a new perspective on a problem we all have. Chbosky does this wonderfully in this book. We have all been through or are going to go through high school and be faced with the problems of growing up. It’s scary for everyone. We have all been through first loves, first losses, first days of school, and the dreaded puberty. Charlie offers a lot of beautiful thoughts about all of these, caked in his young sweetness.

“And when she started becoming a “young lady,” and no one was allowed to look at her because she thought she was fat. And how she really wasn’t fat. And how she was actually very pretty. And how differently her face looked when she realized boys thought she was pretty. And how different her face looked the first time she really liked a boy who was not on a poster on her wall. And how her face looked when she realized she was in love with that boy. And then I wondered how her face would look when she came out from behind those doors.”

I really liked Charlie’s character even though I was worried about him the whole time. It’s like the fact that my mom is obsessed with the Duggar family on TLC (you know, the family with 1907 kids). She says that she just loves their innocence and it’s so refreshing for her to see innocence after seeing the real world every day. Although I think the Duggar family is a bit extreme, Charlie gives me the same feeling. He’s so considerate and caring and you cannot help but fall in love and root for him.

This book is full of moments of small brilliance, the type of little moments that make you stop, make a thoughtful noise of approval and nod your head. Maybe that’s just me but I spent a good portion of this book doing that. The book is written with good enough descriptions to make it modern but enough is left out so that it fits any year at all and that is wonderful. Without a doubt, my favorite part of this book is this small section:

“…Sam told Patrick to find a station on the radio. And he kept getting commercials. And commercials. And a really bad song about love that had the word “baby” in it. And then more commercials. And finally he found this really amazing song about this boy, and we all got quiet.

Sam tapped her hand on the steering wheel. Patrick held his hand outside the car and made air waves. And I just sat between them. After the song finished, I said something.

“I feel infinite”

And Sam and Patrick looked at me like I said the greatest thing they ever heard. Because the song was that great and because we all really paid attention to it. Five minutes of a lifetime were truly spent, and we felt young in a good way.”

Beautiful. Simply beautiful. Everyone read this book so I don’t have to keep talking about it or keep the awesomeness of it to myself.

Until next time, happy reading! Send me your book recommendations if you have them, I’d be happy to check them out and review them all! Leave any comments below! I’d love to hear them!