Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Tea Time: The Perks of Being a Wallflower

I'd been hoping to get to finish Throne of Glass in time for this week's post, but I've been swamped with yet another tidal wave of homework.

So let's explore the book that this blog got its namesake from, shall we?

**Warning: Spoilers May Abound**

The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Stephen Chbosky

Charlie is a freshman.

And while he's not the biggest geek in the school, he is by no means popular. Shy, introspective, intelligent beyond his year yet socially awkward, he is a wallflower, caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it.

Charlie is attempting to navigate his way through uncharted territory: the world of first dates and mix tapes, family dramas and new friends; the world of sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, when all one requires is that perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite. But he can't stay on the sidelines forever. Standing on the fringes of life offers a unique perspective. But there comes a time to see what it looks like from the dance floor.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a deeply affecting coming-of-age story that will spirit you back to those wild and poignant roller-coaster days known as growing up. (source:goodreads).


So, to be perfectly and brutally honest, I'm not a fan. Not of the original, and certainly not of the movie-version. Then again, I usually hate the movie-versions of any book cover. If I'm being fair, though, it's not absolutely horrible. It has that same sort of simplicity that The Fault in Our Stars had, so I guess I can't complain too much.



As far as epistolary novels go, this has to be one of my favorites. Granted, I don't tend to come across too many of them, but still. I think what gets me the most is the fact that throughout the novel, you have no clue who Charlie is sending these letters to. On top of that, Charlie isn't even his real name. Mind blown, huh? So we have a book in which the narrator never actually narrates anybody's real name.

But I guess I'll get into that later.

It's short and sweet and to the point. What I love most? It reads true. The narrator is pulling out all the stops in telling the story of his freshman year of high school to this unnamed receiver of letters. he's truthful. He's confused. He gets excited. I mean, yes there is a such thing as an unreliable narrator, but I felt like Charlie is exactly what the title hints at: he's a wallflower. He watches and observes, and while reading I felt like I could believe him because there wasn't any attempt at getting into anybody's psychology.

It was just plain, simple, truth, through the eyes of Charlie.

However, I'm taking one star off on account of the fact that the narrative was too simple at times. I mean, I get that it's written from the POV of a high school freshman and all, but there were points where it was just too much to completely look over.



Here's another of those "to be honest" moments that I'm famous for. TPoBaW isn't really a plot kind of book, you know? I mean, of course there's a plot: Charlie is a freshman in high school, trying to navigate the realms of friendship. Basically, he's exploring himself.

I mean, there isn't a lot of OH MY GOD moments. Or anything like that. So I guess this section's really short because I can't, for the life of me, figure out exactly what to say. The entire narrative is carried on these letters that I explained above, and it's through the lives of other people that the plot is advanced. Which isn't bad; personally, I love when the plot is more internal than external. Therefore:



This is the moment I've been waiting for. Why? Because this book is literally all about PEOPLE. And I love when that happens.

Charlie: freshman, awkward
Patrick: senior, extrovert
Sam: senior, beautiful (and I mean in the way of personality, but according to Charlie she's outwardly beautiful, too)

In my opinion, the book is about these three. of course, it's all told in the POV of Charlie, but it's when he meets step-siblings Patrick and Sam that his life starts on its roller coaster. And, honestly, it's these three characters who I found myself relating to SO much, Charlie and Sam most of all.

Charlie's just that awkward, confused person who's just trying to figure out life. Aren't we all? I also think it's a nice change to have a narrator/main character who isn't extraordinary. While for more exciting novels I suppose it's nice (heck, who am I to talk? I've got a thief and a super soldier as my main characters), but for this one in particular, I found it refreshing. Since Charlie doesn't have too much of an attitude or bias towards much, you get to see a through a strangely clear window into his world, and into the lives of his family and friends, since he's a 'wallflower'.

Honestly, I found him, and Sam, and Patrick, and most of the other characters truthful. While I said this book is a window, it's also a mirror, and in a contemporary novel like this, I think that matters.


So, drum roll for my final rating: 4 / 5

Stay Crazy,


Thoughts or Questions? Let me know what you think!

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