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.
“Do you always think that much, Charlie?”
Here I am now, after a long, long time not updating this lovely place of mine, greeting you with a new book to review, The Perks of Being A Wallflower. Well, not a new piece, but I guess most of people here in Indonesia, especially the teenagers, haven’t read this novel. I really think this is a good novel for teens so it kinda pushes me to ask you, Indonesian teenagers, to read this and meet Charlie.
By the way, I forgot to mention that this book has been adapted into movie, starring Logan Lerman (the most charming man in Hollywood), Emma Watson (an adorable British girl-turned-woman), and Ezra Miller (hooooot!). Some, or perhaps, most of you have watched the movie version and had known the story plot, but I assure you that you need to read the book too! Really!!! Why? I’m gonna tell you!!
Okay, I’m gonna start with the synopsis.
“(To Charlie)He’s a wallflower … You see things. You keep quiet about them. And you understand. “
As you probably already knew, the main character of this story is a 15-year-old boy named Charlie, who just lost his friend, the one and only, who committed suicide and at the same time got in high school with no friends left. Charlie wasn’t really close to anyone outside his family member; the closest one with him is his big bro who’s an excellent baseball player, which brought him to continue his school to Penn State, while his elder sister’s quite hot-blooded but sometimes nice towards him. He with his parents was just like any other kids with their parents, I think. But the most impactful person to him was probably his mother’s late sister, Aunt Helen. Charlie had been so close towards her that he still remembered her in every single thought of his.
“…Even if somebody else has it much worse, that doesn’t really change the fact that you have what you have. Good and bad…I don’t think I have it any better or worse than she does… maybe it’s good to put things in perspective, but sometimes, I think that the only perspective is to really be there…it’s okay to feel things. And be who you are about them.”
And after his friend, Michael, left him to go to another world, Charlie had none to be friend at school. For some times, school days seemed so tough for him. But he never told anyone, not his parents, his sister, even his brother, except his ‘friend’. He wrote a letter to his ‘friend’, containing story of everything happened in his life, thought, feeling, and emotion he had toward people around him, and hope he had for them. He was asked by his therapist to do this due to something ‘disturbing’ from the past that affected him until then, but still unable to be figured out.
But those tough days softened when Charlie could get close with his English teacher, Bill. Charlie enjoyed the class for he had an enjoyment in literature a lot and Bill really was glad with that fact. Bill asked Charlie to read more literatures and write an essay for every book afterwards. Charlie enjoyed it a lot, including the time after class he had with Bill to discuss the book he read. Then more good days came when Charlie got to know Patrick and fell in love with his step sister, Sam, and could get close with both of them.
“Charlie, we accept the love we think we deserve.”
Patrick and Sam were really different with Charlie. Charlie was a vivid thinker, a very sensitive guy, so caring for others’ feeling, and a kind of homie-guy, even his own sister called him freak once. Patrick was quite frantic, so open about what he thought and what he felt, a risk-loving one, a party-guy, and Sam was pretty (according to Charlie), fun, ever known as a ‘blow-girl’ something, but deep inside she had a low self-esteem. Even so, they could hang out together. Patrick and Sam invited Charlie to their life which was containing of party, theater show, Saint-day, and many things, including introducing him to their senior friends, Mary Elizabeth (becoming his first girlfriend even though he’s so much in love with Sam), Bob, Craig, and Alice. Charlie finally got to know them deeper.
“I just think it’s bad when a boy looks at a girl and thinks that they way he sees the girl is better than the girl actually is. And I think it’s bad when the most honest way a boy can look at a girl is through a camera. It’s very hard for me to see Sam feel better about herself just because an older boy sees her that way.”
But the thing about Charlie was he kept everything he thought and felt inside himself. And like I said before, he’s a vivid thinker, so vivid that he never actually did things. Almost everything he wanted to do only ended up in his brain. He was too selfless and too sensitive of other people’s feeling that he did not want to tell them what he’s feeling only not to ruin their mood, to hurt their heart. That is why Bill once asked him to ‘participate in life’. That is why Sam told him not to ‘just sit there and … do things’.
Then I feel like hugging Charlie. If he were my brother or friend, I would.
And when I knew what’s going on with him and Aunt Helen back when he was very little, I felt really sad… Actually I have already known from watching the movie, but Charlie told me explicitly what’s happening and it made my heart more…broken? I really can’t comprehend. So terrible =(
“I’m not the way I am because of what I dreamt and remembered about my aunt Helen. That’s what I figured out when things got quiet. And I think that’s very important to know…I know what happened was important and I needed to remember it… 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.”
I don’t know but I really got hooked. The glossaries were just simple and easily understood and the plot itself only had a few twists (and only one significant twist at the end of story) but I was really impressed with Charlie. How complicated his life became, due to his too-much ponderings. How he was able to press his needs and wants for the sake of others. How hard he tried to understand everyone and their motives. How brave he was to fight for his friends. How thoughtful he was. How wise actually he was for his age. And he was only 15.
I wondered how my 15-year-old me had been seven years ago.
But well, Charlie was too self-pushing, right?
I hope all teenagers read this; everything that is parts of teens’ life are summed up well here, dilemma, family problem, sex, drugs, risk-taking moments, love, school. I myself wish I had read this novel back then so that I would not only think about love so shallow, or see myself superior over my friends, and ponder more, think more, care more like Charlie. And for those who have teenage sisters and brothers, especially who loves reading, this book is a recommended gift for them.
“The good news is that I read the book, and because of its fantasy nature, I could pretend that I was in the book. That way I could participate and still read.”
In fact, I am disappointed with my review about this book. I feel like I could not represent what’s on my mind really well. Charlie!!!!! By the way, by reading this novel, I finally figured out why Charlie’s called ‘a wallflower’. Well, the movie explained it but I just couldn’t get it. Perhaps I can through the book for it gave me a greater picture of Charlie’s experience.
One statement that I like from this book :
“I feel infinite”
And I do now =)