I’ve always heard that this was a good book and with my trail Scribd subscription I was able to read it.
This book is about a teenager named Charlie. There is something wrong with Charlie. It’s never entirely spelled out in the book, but Charlie has some sort of mental illness. He tells his stories in letters. He has a brother and a sister, both older. He has a mother and a father. He used to have an aunt Helen, but she died tragically, we find out how part of the way through the book.
Charlie doesn’t have any friends. It’s easy for him to cry. He mainly just watches people from the sidelines. He observes what everyone does and how they interact. This all changes when he goes to high school. He goes to a football game one night and sits beside two people. Those two people are step-brother and step-sister, Sam and Patrick. They befriend Charlie. They go to parties. They perform The Rocky Horror Picture Show in front of the movie. They introduce Charlie to new things.
Meanwhile, his brother is in college playing football. His sister is dating a boy her parents don’t want her to date. Charlie becomes an accessory to some of his sister’s secrets. Charlie realizes that he likes Sam, but he never does anything about it. He goes to more parties. He learns something about his friend Patrick and he keeps it a secret.
Things are as crazy as ever as his parents home, but a driver’s license allows Charlie to get a little freedom of his own. He is able to drive to see his aunt Helen’s grave all on his own. Charlie briefly goes out with a girl, but things don’t turn out so well because Charlie just isn’t versed in how to act around girls.
The English teacher, Bill, gives Charlie extra books to read and extra essays to write. Charlie enjoys this and develops a friendship with Bill. He is told that he is very gifted.
Charlie learns a lot in his time with Sam and Patrick and the others that become his friends along the way, but something is still broken inside of Charlie and he still has problems.
What I liked
I get Charlie. I get the people-watching he does. He learns quite a bit about society by watching people, but it’s a different thing when it comes time to put his knowledge into action. All you shy people out there, you know you can relate to Charlie. There have been times when you were the wallflower watching everyone else living life. It’s hard to get outside of that little bubble you have built yourself. Charlie is able to do this, mostly, but he still has problems related to him being the bubble so long. He doesn’t know entirely how to act around other people, and how many of us really do? Sometimes we have no idea what the right words are to say. Charlie also has whatever mental disorder he has. Mental illness is difficult because people can look at you and not see a deformity or any external indicator that you’re ill. People think you’re just being a drama queen or faking the whole thing or just being lazy. I’ve heard plenty of reasonings non-mentally ill people have for mentally ill people.
Charlie succeeds in making friends, he screws a few things up, but he learns a lot. You’ve got to hand it to him for stepping so far out of his comfort zone.
Charlie doesn’t get the girl and that’s ok. A story doesn’t always have to end in a relationship.
What I didn’t like
Charlie’s family understands his mental illness, for the most part, but not everyone else does. It’s sad how people just think he’s weird.
Charlie gets into some things that you may not expect someone his age to get into. I know teenagers are stupid, I’ve been saying this for years, have I not, but because they’re miniature adults, you kind of expect them to make good choices every once in a while and think for themselves. Charlie goes along with everyone else and that’s part of his problem. That’s what other characters tell him is his problem. He lets others decide what to do and where to go. He lets other people sway him in the wind. He doesn’t stand up and say, “You know what, maybe I don’t want to do this thing.”
The thing is, I know what Charlie is thinking; I know what he is reasoning. He’s reasoning that following other people will get him ingratiated with other people. We know that isn’t always the case. Yes, sometimes people do like to have you around when you do everything they suggest, but that eventually gets old for you and for them. You’ve got to be your own person. I’m glad that Charlie started to become his own person during the course of the book.
I like Charlie alright. I don’t know if I would hang out with him, but he’s an alright guy.
charlie, mental illness, patrick, sam, stephen chbosky, the perks of being a wallflower, the perks of being a wallflower book, The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, wallflower
Coming of age, Family dynamics, Fiction, Finding Your Self, humor, Romantic Fiction, Social Commentary