Nowadays there are a lot of books for teenagers and young readers, but it it is really hard to find a very good book. Some of these are nice, they have a good plot or nice characters, but very few of them are too realistic and talk about what being a teenager is really like. Even though some of them are not fantasy or distopic, like The Fault in Our Stars (2012), they tend to draw a reality that is far away from the truth. The Perks of Being a Wallflower (1999), does not fail in this. I don’t want to be the kind of person that complains about the period he/she is living but it is my opinion that the period when this book was written has something to do with its quality.
The first thing is that I love the age the story is set. We are talking about the last years or 90s and event though I was only a little girl there are some things I remember about that period that are very beautiful and that make me feel nostalgic. I’m talking about things like tapes, typewriters or simply the fact that there were no mobile phones and the Internet was not something ordinary. A part of me misses that period and reading about it added some point to this book. The atmosphere created was really magic and vintage for some ways.
Another important element is the style of the story, it is an epistolary novel because we read some letters Charlie wrote to a friend, the fact that he doesn’t even know the name of this friend create a very strong connection between him and the reader, because we have almost the impression that maybe these letters are for us, and the reader plays an active role in the story. In particular, about the style, the sentences are really easy to understand, they are almost every time short and with easy words, furthermore it really looks like if he is telling something to one of his friends, there are a lot of repetitions like “and he said”, “she said” or some periods where it is like a stream of consciousness. This particular style helped to think that the story of Charlie is real and it is like being in hid head, because he jumps from a topic to another, giving us a general view of his life and people that are in there.
Charlie, the protagonist, is far away from the typical teenager-protagonist of a lot of books and movies. Usually the main character is an introvert, but special person, Charlie is all of this, but he is more real, he suffered a lot for horrible things that happened to him and that he still tries to face. He is a wallflower that loves it, he can see the beautiful life of his friends and family. This is not a very common thing for the books that have a young audience, usually the protagonist wants to be at the center of attention, wants to be a star. Charlie is an atypical protagonist and this is one of the things that makes him so special, some teenagers just want to be a wallflower.
The themes are very deep, at the beginning of the story we know that Charlie lost one of his friend and he suffered a lot for this, at the same way for the whole story we have the idea that there is something more. I found really interesting the fact that Charlie focuses a lot on being “sad” and “happy”. When he talks about people he met he always hopes that these people are happy. This dichotomy assumes a strongest meaning while we are reading the story and at the end we know what there is behind it. Other important theme is love, in particular the first time you feel in love with someone and everything changes, even if in this case Charlie knows that he will never be something more than a friend for Sam. But not only thins kind of love is analysed, there also the brotherly love, parental love, love between friend and homosexuality. There is not only on point of view but every single aspects of love is analysed and every single characters live it in a different way. Another theme is sorrow and how people, in particular Charlie, face their past. For the biggest part of the novel he doesn’t know what happened and what its wrong with him, and even though not all the teenagers had the same experience, luckily, there is still the change to feel like him, like if there is something wrong we us even if we can’t understand what it is. Obviously there are some other topic like growing up and doing the important choices for you future, like choosing the college, or find the strength to leave your past behind and all of these subjects are not superficial, but they are really deep and every teenager, and even adult, can find themselves in the difficulties of the characters.
In conclusion, I strongly believe that this book is perfect for teenagers, because the stories that are in there are beautiful, sad, romantic and painful like life is. There is no will to hide things, to say the “light version” of something, it’s honest like very few book are. It was really e revelation and I can say that this is one of the best books I have ever read.