“And in that moment, I swear we were infinite”
The Perks Of Being A Wallflower is a beautifully written epistolary fiction. Books written in letterform are one of my favourite styles of literature. You’re instantly put in the passenger seat and the narrator becomes your best friend and only insight into their world. In this particular novel we are the recipients of the main characters pros. I read this book more than two years ago and it’s always been one of those books that I’ve wanted to go back to, mainly because it’s the kind of book where the characters stick with you.
In this book, Charlie a 15 year old smart, shy, introverted and slightly awkward boy is the main character. Like most teens he struggles with fitting in at high school and making friends BUT before you start making assumptions let me preface this by saying that this book will shock and surprise you. It is not your average book about your typical misfit. It deals with so many controversial and slightly taboo topics that steer this book away from the typical “Oh woe is me” theme that some books carry and leans more towards a coming-of-age story.
At the start of the book we find out that Charlie has recently lost his closest and only friend Michael to suicide which leaves him alone. He then finds himself being ‘adopted’ into a group of older friends who are a collective of really interesting characters. In their own right Sam, Patrick, Brad & Mary Elizabeth are misfits and somehow in their Island of misfits Charlie seems to fit in. Always an outsider but part of the group non the less. The story follows the group on their adventures of teen angst where the writer explores themes of Sexuality, Drug abuse, alcohol abuse, sex abuse and the struggles that occur during teen years. Events unfold at a very fast pace which for Charlie and the reader can be overwhelming but the story is dynamic and realistic and I think that’s the main reason people find this book relatable.
“It’s nice to have things to look forward to.”
The main focus in ‘The Perks’ is how Charlie reacts to the world around him. Throughout the novel there are vague references and flash backs to a traumatic event which happened in his pass. Some say that Charlie was mentally challenged but I honestly feel as though his awkward behavior was due to being an introvert and being traumatised. I think that he was a little unstable but not mentally challenged. At the very end we find out that his Aunt Helen had molested him when he was younger. This is one of the major “Ah huh” moments where everything finally clicks for the reader. It also confuses people. I actually remembering using google to get some clarity on the ending. The trauma is something that understandably stuck with him and affected him, which makes Charlie’s character and quirky traits make a little more sense. It’s hard to not feel sympathetic towards Charlie and fall in love with his character as his character is so endearing and innocent. He truly is a wallflower, he observes and sees so much. He sees the crazy things that are going on around him and although he doesn’t understand it all, he tries to see the good in everything and everyone. He finds joy in the little things such as mixtapes, making new friends, his family and having a good english teacher. If you search hard enough you’ll find that underneath all the stories and struggles Stephen Chbosky is showing us that there are perks in being a wallflower and that the trials and struggles we go through in life can be horrific but ultimately it’s all one big learning curve and that we can choose to pay attention to the smaller things that bring us joy.
I really enjoyed this book from the get-go and it kept me engrossed the whole time. There are so many beautiful moments in it that I found myself dog earring pages constantly. I do think that it’s the kind of book that you have to be in the right frame of mind to fully take on its meaning so proceed with caution but enjoy because it’s one hell of a read.
“We Are All Infinite”