Lucy's Reviews > The Perks of Being a Wallflower

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
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's review
Jul 18, 2011

liked it
bookshelves: better-than-i-expected, coming-of-age, gloomy, young-adult
Read from July 18 to August 02, 2011

When I began reading The Perks of Being a Wallflower I felt it was immediately evident there was something wrong with Charlie, aside from his complacence. Charlie is supposedly brighter than average and excels in English. Reading his letters, however, made me feel he was actually slow. Charlie's English teacher tells him he's the smartest person he's ever known -- not just a student, but as a person. I didn't buy it for a second. The letters Charlie write are filled with the most simple language possible and observations that would have been charming from an eleven year old. From a teenager in his first year of high school the same observations were too innocent, too naive, and even his thoughts on the books he read were depth-less.

Charlie's problems are eventually explained and it is the natural end of the book because the thing that has been holding him back from really joining life and not being a wallflower has been resolved. I'm not sure how I feel about the explanation for his behavior, aside from saying I think he was all too forgiving of the person who had done it to him.

Still, I enjoyed Charlie's story and the letters he wrote, despite wishing they'd either been written with slightly more sophistication or the pretense of the literary genius had been dropped. I've seen in other reviews people had trouble with some of the tragedy porn. I didn't find any of the events outlandish or unlikely, especially with Charlie's tendency to latch onto damaged people. The things he did and the people he chose to follow around felt like a reflection of the problems he was subconsciously aware he had. I enjoyed the way his relationship with his sister evolved far more than I did his 'romance' with Sam, although the scene where Sam urged Charlie to act rounded out his development in the best way possible.

I'm a little old for this book. Charlie's belief that every book and every movie and every experience could change how things were drove me a bit bonkers because I felt the author was speaking to the audience, trying too hard and too obviously for this book to be everyone's teenage catalyst. Less pandering and more focus on the characters would have benefited the story greatly. Three stars. I just said the other day if I'd read one book when I was older I thought it would've been four stars. Well, if I'd read this book a bit younger this would've been four stars.
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Reading Progress

07/18/2011 page 73
34.0% "I have no idea why I waited so long to read this book. It's already so much better than the last streak of YA I tried."
07/19/2011 page 115
54.0% "It's making me uncomfortable in the best possible way."

Comments (showing 1-7 of 7) (7 new)

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Cheyla I know what you mean about Charlie seeming slow. I thought the same. I wondered if maybe he was autistic

Lucy Cheyla wrote: "I know what you mean about Charlie seeming slow. I thought the same. I wondered if maybe he was autistic"

Yes, I thought autistic too. It actually would've been pretty amazing to have a book about personal relationships being written this way from an autistic teenager's POV. Oh well. His attempts to relate to people and the difficulty he had with it screamed autistic, but the answer the book gives makes an equal amount of sense.

Cory Looking back on this, I feel the same way. The first time I read it was 4(?) years ago and I thought it was amazing. Now, I can only read certain parts without rolling my eyes a bit. I am excited for the movie, though I have the feeling that they've watered it down a bit for a PG-13 rating.

Cheyla That's what I was thinking to. I always get a little apprehensive at the prospect of a book I like turned into a movie. It's how I felt about The Hunger Games.

Diana Holquist I am SO glad I read this review, because I also thought he was autistic--maybe aspergers syndrome--and felt like an idiot when he wasn't. I'm just so glad I wasn't the only one who found the voice so odd and off. I also couldn't agree more about the booklist/audio list from the author. Ugh. So pretentious.

Maru I agree 100% with everything you said, great review! I had the same thoughts reading this book! While it was entertaining for the most part, and some things did resonate with me, I struggled to read about the teenage world through the eyes of someone so emotionally unstable, who - as you said - sound way younger than fifteen/sixteen. This is what annoyed me most, and made the novel lose some credibility.

Maxine I disagree. I did think he was simple but not slow. I think the explanation as to why he was this way fit how he viewed the world from a little broken boys perspective. He hasn't been able to grow past a certain point because of the damage.
Forgiveness and love and caring is a gift he had...I thought it refreshing to read that he still loves his Aunt. He also did mention any times his anger at people and his inability to control his aggression in sports.
Obviously, the boy was emotionally behind an average Freshman, but it worked for me.
I also found the books and music references fun. Every book my English teacher had me read impacted my life then as does reading now.
"Be a filter, not a sponge."

I loved it!

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