The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky | Book Review

I had watched this movie long before I even considered picking the book. The book in turn, was a Raksha Bandhan gift from my big brother – a fact that he doesn’t know because I bought it after he gifted me cash. This came to me in 2015, I think, and it was only a couple of months ago, close to 4 years after I got it that I decided to pick this book and actually read it. But better late than never and better to have an overflowing bookshelf than an empty one. Right? Right.

So that’s the history of this book. Now on to my review, which is going to be a short one. So bear with me for now.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is the story of Charlie, an emotional teenager who doesn’t know what to do with his feelings. He is compassionate and understanding of his friends, even though he asks stupid questions many times. He is shy, doesn’t know what to do in crowds, prefers to be the DJ instead of out there on the dance floor, and is basically a wallflower, as the title has already told you.

When Charlie befriends two seniors, Sam and Patrick, who are step-siblings, his life gets a lot more interesting. It’s the first time he has friends since his friend, Michael’s suicide, and he’s trying to be a lot of things, trying to understand his friends’ feelings, and trying to keep a level head at the same time. But then again, even with the help of a supportive teacher, friends, and family, he has trouble navigating life and working around the trauma of losing someone close.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is an epistolary novel in the form of letters from Charlie to an unknown recipient. He addresses the letters as ‘Dear friend’ and that’s all we know of this unnamed friend. But Charlie doesn’t hold back in these letters. Obviously. Or we wouldn’t know half the story. His writing sometimes seems like it’s written by a child and not a teenager, but given his situation, his headspace, and what he is going through, one can totally understand.

You can learn a lot of things from this book – most importantly, the fact that how you feel about the pain of a person you love, says a lot about you and your love for that person.  And how you can be a wallflower but people will still love you, irrespective of whether or not you see that fact. As a wallflower, it’s a good thing to hear and read, but then, as things happen in the book, my doubts about myself returned. That’s completely on me, though. I’m a pretty extreme person at times. 😛

With a protagonist as innocent as Charlie, who has the most inane but relevant questions, The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a poignant tale of love, friendship, acceptance, and emerging from the weight of the past. I’d recommend it. Without a doubt. Though I must say (I don’t usually give this disclaimer) that this book is one of those that has quite extreme reactions. You won’t know if you like it until you read it.

Rating: 3.75/5 stars

Until next time, keep reading and add melodrama to your life. 🙂

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