The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a story about what it’s like to travel that strange course of the uncharted territory of high school. The world of first dates, family dramas, and new friends. Of sex, drugs, and the rocky horror picture show. Of those wild and poignant roller-coaster days known as growing up.
My Favourite Quotes:
- I want you to know that I am both happy and sad and I am still trying to figure out how that could be.
- You can’t just sit there and put everybody’s lives ahead of yours and think that counts as love.
- Things change. And friends leave. Life doesn’t stop for anybody.
- We accept the love we think we deserve.
- Even if we don’t have the power to choose where we come from, we can still choose where we go from there.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower is the coming of age novel of its protagonist, Charlie. We meet him at the beginning of the school year. He is looking to start afresh while holding on to the years that have passed. Charlie has a unique way of looking at the world and a fondness for reading. Unfortunately, he often finds himself observing the world from the sidelines instead of living in the moment. The youngest at home he learns to listen and be silent, finding himself without friends in school he learns to blend into the background.
The book deals with themes of mental health, suicide, drug abuse, abuse, family, friendship, and first love in its own unique manner. Through the course of the novel, a dark secret from Chalie’s past surfaces. It explains many things, puts into context this feeling of something being amiss that the reader has( Or at least I did). But Charlie does not let it define him. As he very wisely states ” if we don’t have the power to choose where we come from, we can still choose where we go from there.” In the darkest of times, he finds himself surrounded by family and friends.
The author has adopted a first-person narrative to tell Charlie’s story. The story unravels from Charlie’s point of view. The most intriguing thing about the narrative technique of The Perks of Being a Wallflower is the format in which it is written. I happen to have a fondness for the epistolary format employed in the book. I have my own theories about the identity of the person these letters were addressed to. And why this book was written in the epistolary format, but I will keep my wild conjectures to myself (and maybe my fanfiction).
The letter format works wonderfully to articulate all the narrator wants to reveal. It also keeps hidden all that the narrator is not comfortable sharing. But the very fact that Charlie took the initiative to write letters, give his opinions and share it with somebody makes me feel like he is ready to be more than an observer. It is a symbol of him taking control of the narrative. The act of writing letters, telling his story to a complete stranger is an act of hope and growth, and that in itself is beautiful.
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