The perks of being a wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

perksBook NameThe perks of being a wallflower

Author: Stephen Chbosky

Pages: 213

Genre: YA fiction

My Rating: 2 out of 5

Format: Paperback checked out from the local library

Goodreads’s words: 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 mix 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 he 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 it looks like from the dance floor. The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a deeply affecting coming-of-age story that will spirit you back to those wild and poignant roller-coaster days known as growing

My Words: After reading this book, I am just in the stage where there is a big vacuum that comes after the chaos dies down. And I still don’t seem to get out of it. This book left me with more questions than providing any good answers. I know this book was written in the 90’s but there are books written in that era that have nuances of writing that this book greatly lacks.

Let’s see, “Perks of being a wallflower” covers a range of social issues like suicide, death, rape, social exclusion/inclusion, relationship violence, abortion, drugs, homosexual adventures, child-molestation, parties, fights all in a matter of 200 or so pages. Each of the issue is placed every few pages or so without dealing with any of them in depth. It felt like the author just wanted to cover as many of them as possible and place them throughout the book just to make sure that the book consists of a plethora of social issues. If a book deals with these issues, there should be an in-depth exploration with the space and dialogue that they deserve.

The characters, too, are not developed properly, that is what I feel. The main character Charlie is 15, and yet he seems way younger than that most of the time. And Charlie has issues, we get it. It makes the character more real. But there is no fine line describing the effects of those issues on Charlie or where do all those feelings of panic, sadness and helplessness come from. All we know is that he cries. A lot! Which is not really wrong. Crying is normal and in cases where like Charlie where there are unresolved issues. But simply narrating that the character cries does not signify any deeper connection automatically. Tears are just the outcome/symptom; It’s the stuff behind the veil of tears that gives a reader a feeling of understanding/connecting with the characters. E.g., I would really like to understand why Charlie is the way he is. In the scene where his parents find him on the living room couch staring at a blank TV, I would like to understand more clearly the root cause that made him do things the way he did. There is a mention of child molestation after the incident, but it’s all blurry for me. There was a lot of scope to explore the psychological trauma and present it in a less weaker light. Characters are meant to be related with. Like in case of Charlie, one should be able to say that they relate with him because he was molested as a child, or because  he was suffering from depression due to so-and-so issue, but there is no premise to make one feel so. The portrayals of Charlie and the other characters is weak and greatly lacking.

The writing of the book may have been at fault for not being able to explore all that I mentioned above. I don’t have a problem with the writing style, having read few similar ones and liking them too. But maybe this particular story should have been written from a third person perspective rather than Charlie’s. Or the author could have written a two-way communication between Charlie and his friend from the letters. That way it might have helped put more light on the finer points. With its current style, it left me with more questions than answers and way more confused.

I think the story is great, it just could have been much much better. If you are okay with reading a person’s daily routine, written out in letter format without going deep into the said matter at hand, because it is assumed that you don’t need to, then go for it. Its 2 out of 5 from me.

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