The Perks of Being a Wallflower

by Stephen Chbosky | Teens |
ISBN: 1451696191 Global Overview for this book
Registered by wingGoryDetailswing of Nashua, New Hampshire USA on 9/20/2017
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1 journaler for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by wingGoryDetailswing from Nashua, New Hampshire USA on Wednesday, September 20, 2017
I got this good-condition softcover from the local library's ongoing book sale. I'd wanted to read it for some time, and it didn't disappoint - though I was glad I hadn't researched the plot ahead of time, as I was able to appreciate the revelations as they occurred.

The book's in the form of letters from troubled teen Charlie to an unnamed "friend" - whether this is an actual person is never made clear, though Charlie is sending physical letters somewhere. He reveals the ups and downs of his school life, his social awkwardness, some personal tragedies - the suicide of a schoolmate, Michael, and the death of his much-beloved Aunt Helen, for which he feels guilty - and, gradually, the changes he goes through as he finds friends.

There's a good mix of family life, school life, and social life here, with Charlie gaining much from his English teacher's encouragement to read different books, and with his expanding world helping him in dealing with his siblings. But there are a lot of rocky bits, some just embarrassing and some quite vicious - though I nearly stood up and cheered when Charlie took out the bullies who were whaling on his friend James. (OK, I also took a moment to think "wait, how can this kid be such an effective fighter? When did his brother give him combat training?" But it was awesome anyway.)

The story does include a LOT of drugs, and cigarettes, and booze, with most of the older teens apparently having no hesitation in letting Charlie, just 16, partake. Some of this is presented as enjoyable bonding experience, while other scenes show the downside of overindulging. ("I'll never take LSD again.") Since I did not grow up in a place with a heavy drug culture, all this felt over-the-top to me, but perhaps it's closer to modern teen life - at least in some areas.

There's plenty of sexual content, too, though only a few scenes of anything explicit. (When it does get explicit, late in the story, it leads to one of the biggest reveals, which is a make-or-break deal for poor Charlie!) My favorite of these scenes was when Charlie accompanies Patrick to a gay cruising-ground in the park, so Patrick can make hookups to get over his breakup with his closeted boyfriend. Patrick tells Charlie how to dissuade any unwanted interest, but when Charlie has a rather amusing conversation with someone who turns out to be a local TV commentator, he figures out one of his own - he asked the guy what it was like to be on TV. Cue sudden exit! (Funnier still is a later scene when Charlie tells his brother that the TV sports guy liked his football - and, just in time, remembers NOT to tell him how he met the guy.)

I enjoyed the many pop-culture references, too, whether it was Charlie's reaction to a book or he and his friends or family enjoying - and/or squabbling over - a movie. Rocky Horror Picture Show plays a key part in the friendship circle, and Charlie has some interesting things to say about It's a Wonderful Life, including suggesting that it should have been about Uncle Billy instead of George.

The main point, of course, is Charlie's journey and eventual - and hard-won - triumph. An unusual and involving story!

[The book inspired a 2012 film. There's a TV Tropes page on the book and film, with some entertaining tidbits.]

Released 1 yr ago (5/3/2018 UTC) at Little Free Library, Hanover St. in Manchester, New Hampshire USA

WILD RELEASE NOTES:

I left this book in the Little Free Library; hope someone enjoys it!

[See other recent releases in NH here.]

*** Released for the 2018 April Showers/May Flowers release challenge. ***

*** Released for the 2018 Movie release challenge. ***

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