The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
This is the story of what it's like to grow up in high school. More intimate than a diary, Charlie's letters are singular and unique, hilarious and devastating. We may not know where he lives. We may not know to whom he is writing. All we know is the world he shares. Caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it puts him on a strange course 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.
It was particularly interesting to read this book after last month's selection, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, as the two are both very similar to and completely different from each other.
Like Curious Incident, The Perks of Being a Wallflower gave us lots to discuss. Chbosky touches on so many issues -- being gay (closeted and uncloseted), sexual abuse, domestic violence, drug and alcohol abuse, abortion -- and he does it in a way that incorporates seamlessly into the overarching story.
Charlie is a sympathetic character and we were surprised to find that the book ended up being a page-turner for us. There is a definitely sense of knowing that something is coming, which both propels the reader and causes him/her to jump to unmerited conclusions along the way.
There were a few things in the book that didn't ring true to me (re. being a teenager), but I was the only one at our meeting who felt that way then again, I'm the youngest and closest to my high school years (a contemporary of Charlie's) so make of that what you will.
Of those who read the book, I was the one who liked it least (which pleasantly surprised me). What impressed me most about our reaction to the book, though, was one person's excitement about passing her copy of the book along to her nephew.