Monday, March 18, 2013

Review: Perks book and movie

Title by Author: Perks of Being aWallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Series (if applicable): none
Publisher: MTV Books and Pocket Books
Publication Date: 1999
Page Count:  213 pages
Source: store
Blurb: 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 years 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 sideline 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.

My Interest in this book is: I wanted to see the movie, and my daughter really enjoyed the story.

My Review:
This book is written in the form of letters to an unknown person both to the reader and Charlie, himself.  Charlie is about to start high school and is scared about what that entails. His best friend committed suicide over the summer and Charlie is also dealing with other issues that are so deep-seeded that he has no idea what they are.  Luckily, Charlie takes a chance and sits with Patrick, a senior, at a football game.  Patrick and his step-sister, Sam, take Charlie under their wing and introduce him to so many people and experiences.

Charlie is also lucky in his English teacher, who realizes Charlie’s brilliance, and gives Charlie books outside of the curriculum to read.  Every book that Charlie reads becomes his new favorite book.  Charlie is quirky and honest and someone you find you are rooting for in this story. You fall in love with Sam, find Patrick eccentric and want to help Charlie’s sister as well.

I enjoyed this story, though it is difficult to read about the pain and anguish that Charlie does experience.  You want Charlie to get better, and you also want him to learn to cope with his feelings with a way that doesn’t involve drugs or alcohol.  He lives on the fringe of life, but he has two wonderful friends who make sure that Charlie is all right, even though they are a few years older than him and about ready to graduate from high school.

I had a hard time continuing the story, especially at the beginning, as it was rather painful.  Even if you weren’t a wallflower yourself, you definitely feel his emotions as he writes them in the letters to our unknown recipient.  I am glad that I finished the book.  The ending, though seemingly shocking, made sense for how Charlie had been acting for most of his life.  It was also heart-warming that he did find friends who understood him and helped him to blossom and become comfortable with himself.  Charlie is very smart, but rather na├»ve, but he’s okay with that and he continues to learn.

Favorite Quotes:
When I was driving home, I just thought about the word “special.” And I thought the last person who said that about me was my aunt Helen. I was very grateful to have heard it again. Because I guess we all forget sometimes. And I think everyone is special in their own way. I really do.

So, I guess we are who we are for a lot of reasons. And maybe we’ll never know most of them. But even if we don’t have the power to choose where we come from, we can still choose where we go from there. We can still do things. And we can try to feel okay about them.

When I finished this book, I felt: Mixed feelings.  It was a great story, a bit disturbing, but you know that Charlie will be all right and you hope that there is a Patrick out there for the Charlie’s in the world.
Rating: 4 stars
Tag: teenage, high school, issues, friendship


Well, I wanted to read the story first, before I watched the movie, and I did!  I am glad that I had read the story first.  The book was filled with so much emotion. The movie, however, was very well done, considering that the book was all letters to an unknown person.  In the movie, it starts with Charlie writing a letter to Dear Friend. Then the story unfolds gracefully from that point.  There are scenes from the book that were not included in the movie, and I think that was a wise choice, as more teens would be apt to watch instead of read.  How the movie dealt with Charlie and his memories of his Aunt Helen was also very well done. Even I had not read the book, the movie is wonderful regardless.  It is powerful, deep and a good story of a kid with issues, but who becomes friends with an eccentric bunch that helps Charlie come out of his shell and ‘participate’ in life more.  I loved the quote at the end, which, unfortunately was not in the book, that was from Sam when she came back from the summer program at Penn State. (This isn’t exact but the gist of the quote) I have been out in the world, only for two months, but it’s going to be okay.

Just like the book, though, you are left feeling sad for Charlie and what he’s been through, but you are also hopeful that things are going to be getting better for Charlie.  His year with Patrick and Sam have had him experience so much, as well as seeing how important it is to ‘participate’ in life – to feel ‘infinite.’ And, if you have never been to The Rocky Horror Picture Show, I really hope you find one near you and go.  If you are a ‘virgin’ you better learn the Time Warp first!

This book was read for the Reading Outside the Box reading challenge. 
It is for Category 1 - To the Screen.
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