Loved it. I am glad to have picked this up. It kept me totally engrossed to the point where I was walking around my house with my nose in the book. Charlie’s voice drew me in and made me curious about his life. But I wondered why he is so innocent for a teenage boy.
The story opens with a letter from Charlie to an unknown receiver that discusses his last year of middle school and the death of his close friend. It ends with Charlie mentioning that he is apprehensive about beginning high school. His first day of high school was actually not bad despite Charlie being attacked by a bully. But Charlie comes out on top by defeating his bully, using fight moves he learned from his older brother, and later crying about it. Charlie cries a lot.
Other than this, everyone at school simply passes by Charlie, not acknowledging him. He is a wallflower. Simply there, observing what’s around him but revealing none of what he knows. He sees many things – his sister getting hit by her boyfriend; the quarter-back of the football team kissing Patrick (Charlie’s friend); his father crying – and in all those situations he is asked to keep silent and he usually does. I guess it’s because he’s silent about so many things that he cries so much or maybe he is autistic, which many readers claim. The story never says if he is or not. The story simply lists symptoms – crying a lot, very smart, withdrawing into self and not interacting – and readers draw their own conclusions. Apparently, this is also due to a trauma experienced during Charlie’s childhood.
It’s hard to walk away from Charlie’s voice and his clear observations of the muddled lives around him. Charlie’s detachment from the events around him enables him to see things for what they are. Despite this, Charlie is unable to discern the muddled elements in his own situations. He was unable to tell that he was in a relationship or was even entering one with Mary Elizabeth. But that’s simply who Charlie is – there yet detached.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a great read and is now one of my favorites. I’m in love with the way it is written. It’s memorable. My only problem with it is that at fifteen years old, Charlie acts and thinks younger than his age. And he cries too much. Otherwise, great story.