The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a modern, coming of age drama, featuring a talented young cast that includes Logan Lerman, (Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief) Emma Watson (The Harry Potter Series) and Nina Dobrev (The Vampire Diaries). The movie has been a real hit with both audiences and critics, raking in a cool $17million and scooping up several awards.
But now let’s forget about the movie. You may have already seen it. The real question is: have you read the book? Written in 1999 by Stephen Chbosky, original reviews were mixed. Teenagers loved it but adults hated it. Why? Because it focuses on some big issues – mainly sex and drugs – and teenagers shouldn’t be reading about such scandalous things, right? One thing is for sure, this review isn’t mixed. Chbosky’s book is a work of genius.
The story is told from the point of view of Charlie, through a series of letters he writes to an unknown ‘Friend’. Charlie is intelligent, shy, and incredibly socially awkward, but this doesn’t stop him from being a character that both a teenager and an adult who’s been through the same problems, can relate to. Charlie experiences a lot of ‘firsts’ that include his first party, first alcoholic drink, and his first girlfriend (whom he doesn’t actually like) and his accounts of these experiences are witty, heart-breaking, and truthful, accompanied by all the inexperienced naivety that you expect from a teenager. Chbosky has captured an honest portrayal of youth, and he shouldn’t receive anything but praise for doing so. He’s given us everything we could possibly want: comedy, drama, tears and joy, and even the stereotypical wise, Yoda-like teacher (who is excellent for some classic book recommendations, if you’re interested).
Don’t just watch the movie. Read the book. It doesn’t take long to read – one, because it’s quite short and two, because it’s so compelling that you’ll probably read it in a single sitting like I did (there’s a possibility you’ll be tired the following morning but the journey is worth it). By the end you’ll be wishing you were part of Charlie’s gang too.