I wanted to like The Perks of Being a Wallflower even though it is not the usual genre that I read. A friend suggested that I read it,but I both disliked and liked this book, the writing, and the characters. How is that for confusing?
Charlie as a character was…interesting. Highly emotional, smart, but handicapped in some way. I am not sure I want to label which handicap, though I have read that some people call him autistic. Whatever it is, he is definitely different than other people. I didn’t mind that except during places I could not believe he didn’t know/understand. How does someone Charlie’s age not understand what rape is? Or know what masturbation is? Those two points in particular stood out to me. Not understanding there was pot in the brownies, or kissing Sam when he is asked to kiss the most beautiful girl, or even telling Sam that he had a sexual dream about her, I understand. But the whole rape and masturbation thing, I do not understand. Perhaps because I have no personal experience being mentally handicapped.
I also had a problem with the reality of the drugs and cigarettes. Charlie has trouble lying, so I cannot think that he would know to take precautions so he didn’t smell like pot or cigarettes. If you smoke ten cigarettes a day, you are GOING to smell like cigarettes. So rejecting a cigarette from Patrick outside Charlie’s house so his parents wouldn’t see didn’t make any sense to me. Any parent with a nose and who cares about their child (as Charlie's parents certainly seem to) would be able to figure out that their child smells like smoke 24/7.
There were so many issues in this book. Death, suicide, rape, violence, drugs, abortion, sexual adventures- both hetero and homosexual, child molestation, and being socially excluded. In my opinion there were a bit too many issues because we don’t get to explore all of these issues in depth. Drugs and homosexuality were touched on quite a bit, but the other issues were brought up, offered to us, and then not really expanded upon.
The part about abortion was my favorite of the entire book. Charlie takes his sister to get an abortion, and as he is waiting for her to get done so he can drive her home, he realizes that this is the first time someone has ever depended on him. It was a fantastic moment, and really well written.
One thing I did not like about Chbosky’s writing was the sense of time. I had a really hard time distinguishing how time went by. It would have been impossible if the letters were not dated. That brings me to the letters. I am not a fan of the letters format. A few key letters in a story are fine, but the whole thing? It’s just personal preference; I don’t like it.
I was really worried about Charlie’s teacher. After class meetings, book discussions, and then the invitation to his house?! Perhaps this is because I am reading this in the 21st century, but all of my warning lights went off. I was supremely relieved that the teacher was unlike what I had been expecting, and the only intimacy was an awkward hug (initiated by Charlie). Thank goodness, thank goodness, thank goodness. The story did NOT need any more issues.
I was a bit confused about the end. Charlie goes into a…lapse of time where he doesn’t remember doing or saying anything, and is treated at a hospital. Why? Is it because of Sam leaving? I really don’t know. But I didn’t really like that part, it just seemed like a really weak ending.
So I give this book two and a half stars, because I didn't hate it, but there were some points I openly scoffed at... It wasn't necessarily a bad book, I just didn't enjoy it very much.