The Perks of Being a Wallflower – Stephen Chbosky

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Now, I’m going to be completely honest with you. I only read this book because I wanted to see the movie, only because Emma Watson was in it and I love her. (You shall discover my extreme love for all things Harry Potter some time later in our journey through my bookcase.) So of course, in order to see the movie I had to read the book first. And let me tell you, it was not what I expected. In case you don’t know the story, it follows Charlie, Patrick, and Sam. Charlie, a strange, friendless, high school freshman finds himself forming relationships with Patrick and Sam, seniors at Charlie’s school, as well as the rest of their social group. These relationships open up Charlie’s secluded world to new ideas, experiences, and emotions. We get to follow Charlie as he learns how to be a friend, a boyfriend, a brother, and an individual.

Now, there were some moments of brilliance. One such moment occurred when Charlie, Patrick, and Sam are driving and Charlie reflects “and in that moment, I swear we were infinite.” That small phrase hit me hard. I stopped reading for a few minutes, just to take the time to think about what I had just read and how it related to my life. Had I experienced anything quite like what Charlie was experiencing? Had I ever truly felt infinite? My answer happened to be “I don’t know.” I’m not sure what it feels like to be infinite, so I guess that means my answer should really be a solid “no”.

However, I did relate with Charlie in a different moment. Charlie, an insightful kid, notes “we accept the love we think we deserve.” Let me tell you, I loved that. Because I’ve been there, I’ve felt that, I’ve shut people out because I didn’t think they could love me for me. And inside I knew what I was doing, why I was doing it, but I didn’t know how to explain it to myself or to other people. I didn’t know how to put into words why I was acting the way I was. And now I do. Because we accept the love we think we deserve, and I can tell you for sure that I accept a whole lot more love these days than I did several years ago.

With all that being said, I still didn’t love the book. This may sound ridiculous, but it was too real for me. I find it hard to accept that kids like Charlie are out there, insecure, scared, and emotionally scarred by people they loved and trusted. I know that there are kids everywhere very similar to Charlie, but I don’t want to. Ignorance is bliss, I guess?

Overall, The Perks of Being a Wallflower will never be one of my favourite books. And that’s okay. Lots of other people love it, it is not wanting for fans. I suppose if it were an emotionally scarred, insecure and scared kid I could spend more time with it and try to at least support it and understand it. However, The Perks of Being a Wallflower is one kid who is fully aware of who they are and what their purpose is, and we just don’t get along. So adios, au revoir, and goodbye. Maybe you’ll get more love in my next garage sale.

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