Sunday, 17 April 2011

Book Review: The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Perks is an epistolary novel written from the point of view of an introspective fifteen year old boy named Charlie (although he states the names have been changed). It is set in Pittsburgh during 1991-1992 and is written by American writer Stephen Chbosky. It explores issues such as sexuality, abuse and the general awkwardness of adolescence. Indeed, it reminds me of Catcher in the Rye, a book that Charlie reads, and the angst-ridden and reflective tones of My So-Called Life.

I really loved reading this book; it reminded me a lot of how I felt during my teenage years, maybe not to the extreme that Charlie does, but I definitely had my moments of social awkwardness and confusion as to how I should act or be. Nothing prepares you for the sudden suffocating tide of self-consciousness that puberty brings - when you are kid you are quite free and happy to scream and be silly and dress up as a princess or Spiderman to go shopping with your mum, but then you turn 13 or whatever age and everything is so embarrassing and the spotlight feels like it's on you, highlighting every pimple.

I identified with Charlie, I recognised the hunger he has to learn and the attachment he feels towards great books and moving songs. Best of all it harks back to the 90s when I was a teenager and there were no mobile phones or iPods.

A film version starring Logan Lerman, Emma Watson and Nina Dobrev has been announced for release in 2012. Chbosky is writing the screenplay and directing, so hopefully it will capture the rawness of the book. Plus I really hope they use the mixtape Charlie makes as the soundtrack.

I walk around the school hallways and look at the people. I look at the teachers and wonder why they're here. If they like their jobs. Or us. And I wonder how smart they were when they were fifteen. Not in a mean way. In a curious way. It's like looking at all the students and wondering who's had their heart broken that day, and how they are able to cope with having three quizzes and a book report due on top of that. Or wondering who did the heart breaking. And wondering why.

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