Book Review: The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Title: The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Author: Stephen Chobosky

Publication Date: 1999

Why did I choose to read this book?

This has been on my to-be-read pile for ages. I can’t even remember when I bought it.

After reading Hangover Square and having started to re-read A Storm of Swords by George RR Martin, I was looking for something a bit less demanding. The Perks of Being a Wallflower seemed to fit the bill.

Summary

From the blurb of the Pocket Books paperback:

Charlie is a freshman. And while he’s not the biggest geek in the school, he is by no means popular. Shy, introspective, intelligent beyond his years, yet socially awkward, he is a wallflower, caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it. Charlie is attempting to navigate his way 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. But Charlie can’t stay on the sideline forever. Standing on the fringes of life offers a unique perspective. But there comes a time to see what life looks like from the dance floor.

Review

I enjoyed The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Although I’m nearly old enough to be his father, I really identified with Charlie and his struggles to understand the world around him. His relationship with his best friends, Sam and Patrick, a really important element of the storyline, was dealt with very well by Stephen Chbosky -it was both touching and believable.

I’ve read quite a few coming of age novels. Whilst reading The Perks of Being a Wallflower I was reminded of Naive.Super by Erland Loe, Train Man by Hitori Nakano, and, of course, The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger. The Perks of Being a Wallflower wasn’t as good as these other titles, but it held up surprisingly well.

One of the things that I liked most about The Perks of Being a Wallflower was that it referenced other books. Throughout the story, Charlie’s English teacher, Bill, gives him books to read, such as: To Kill a Mockingbird, On The Road and Naked Lunch. Twelve classic books are mentioned in total, and these become Charlie’s favourite books. At some point I’d love to read all of these books. Most would be re-reads for me, but some of the titles (Walden, for instance), I’ve never read before. Perhaps I’ll run it as a reading challenge on The Book Base.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is being made into a film (due to be released in 2012). Emma Watson, Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter movies, will play the part of Sam, and Charlie is to be played by Logan Lerman (Percy Jackson). Luckily, the film is being directed by the book’s author, Stephen Chbosky, so the source material shouldn’t be tampered with too much. However, as is the case with most book to screen adaptations, it’s probably a good idea to read the book first.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is not the best coming of age story I’ve ever read, but it is both poignant and well-written. I thoroughly enjoyed it and I regret leaving it on my to-be-read pile for so long.

Rating: 8 out of 10

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