Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

This was a big surprise which I had picked up on a whim, and I didn't expect it to turn out as it did. "The Perks of Being a Wallflower" by Stephen Chbosky is written from the point of a teenager in an American High School who, as a young child, experienced serious trauma, the accidental death of his favourite aunt, and spent some time in a mental hospital, and then later, his friend commits suicide.

He writes his story in a series of letters to a friend, who unless I missed something is never identified, but was introduced to him as someone who listens. The book covers a school year between 1991 and 1992, which means that there are no mobile phones, Internet, or Facebook, which is really refreshing. He is an awkward teenager, and his psychiatrist encourages him to participate, so he takes the plunge and speaks to someone, Patrick, from his shop class at a football match. There he also meets Patrick's stepsister and falls in love, but as she is older than him, and cares for him deeply, it is as a friend. And so, the wallflower is introduced in a very kind and caring way to the passages of youth; love, drugs, sex, and alcohol.

I found it really beautifully written, very realistic. The characters and their experiences a vividly described together with his confusion and his visible sadness, the real reason for which is unexpected and revealed at the end of the book. While it is a sad story, it is filled with love, promise, and home. It is a good story for teenagers, as an introduction to the real world, and for adults, to help them remember that adolescenthood is the same whatever the era.

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