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 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. But Charlie 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 up.
GENRE: Young Adult, Contemporary
MY RATING: ★★★★
A wallflower is a shy or retiring person who remains unnoticed at social events, especially a woman without a dance partner. Charlie, the main character of the story, is a wallflower. He experienced a sense of alienation during his first year in high school. He has his own world of his own. His best friend committed suicide and he felt responsible for that. His favorite aunt also died when he was young and he blames himself for that too. Instead of keeping a diary, he wrote letters addressed to a “friend”.
Charlie is described as a “gifted and intelligent boy”. He loves literature and music. According to his English teacher, he is the most intelligent boy he ever met. His letters though does not depict his writing abilities because it seems to be written by a 7-year old instead of a 15-year old.
Reading the first chapters of the book, I thought Charlie is experiencing Autism. Autism is a psychiatric disorder marked by severe difficulties in communicating and forming relationships with other people. Autistic children find it hard to understand how other people feel, and so tend to remain isolated even as they grow old. However, it turns out that Charlie is just an innocent, young adult who struggles to fit.
Charlie finds it hard to actively participate in his surroundings. He prefers to be in the periphery and is contented of being a mere observer. Major change happened when he befriends Patrick and Sam.
The story addresses topics like sex, drugs and forming relationships. It tells the readers that during adolescence, the child’s world revolve around forming relationships outside the family. His friends are a valuable part of his life and minimal interactions with his parents are seen.
The Perks of Being A Wallflower taught me that it’s okay to be different. No matter how “freaky” you may appear to others, there are still people who will love you because of who you are. I realized that friends play an important role in our lives. We need people who understands us even if we don’t understand ourselves.