Eclectic Reader Challenge – New Adult – The Perks of Being a Wallflower – Stephen Chbosky

I bought this book when the movie came out with the intention of reading the book and then seeing the movie. In the end, I did neither. It has been on my to-read list since then. So it seemed perfecphoto-14t for the Eclectic Reader Challenge category of New Adult.

The book is series of letters to an unnamed person addressed simply as friend. They detail the ups and downs of Charlie’s life as he starts High School describing events and people with a warmth and naivety that was mostly charming. He is shy, awkward and has little grasp of social etiquette. He is befriended by a group of older misfits and through them goes to parties, takes drugs and learns about sex and relationships. While his voice was convincing, I think that I’d have enjoyed it more if I was nearer his age. I found myself feeling a little impatient with him, the way adults do with teenagers but for the most part I was keen to read on and find out what happened to him.

It is apparent quite early on that Charlie has psychological issues relating to the death of his Aunt Helen and he swings between depression and optimism throughout the book. Details are gradually revealed giving the reader clues to what the issues may be. However, the final reveal – I won’t give it away for those who have not read it – felt a little underwhelming. Not that it wasn’t a serious issue – it certainly justified Charlie’s issues – but that it wasn’t explored very deeply, was almost brushed off with an ease that seemed unlikely.

This book is often compared to The Catcher in the Rye and, in some ways, it is an apt comparison. Both Holden and Charlie are caught in cycles of behaviour that they seemed destined to repeat and both have distinctive voices. However, ultimately I prefer The Catcher in the Rye because it is darker and less twee. I found the end of The Catcher in the Rye devastating as so little progress has been made in Holden’s journey of discovery. I don’t know why but I find this easier to relate to then the sweet optimism of Charlie’s last letter.

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5 thoughts on “Eclectic Reader Challenge – New Adult – The Perks of Being a Wallflower – Stephen Chbosky

  1. Pingback: My Reading Year | kepagewriter

  2. I haven’t read the book, so I can’t speak to it, but the movie is wonderful. Even if you just had luke warm feelings about the book, I encourage you to go ahead and make the time for the movie. I don’t normally like coming of age stuff, or indie movies, or pretty much any of the things this movie was. However, I thought there were just beautiful moments in the movie that made me want to write better. Also, I’m curious how Perks made it onto a New Adult list. It’s not New Adult. It’s firmly Young Adult. Where did you find it listed as NA?

    1. To be honest, I wanted to read it so I decided it fit. It is about coming of age and has a protagonist dealing with the issues of growing up. I’m not really sure of the dividing line between the two anyway.

      1. I guess that’s as good an excuse as any. Generally the dividing line is the age of the protagonist. Young Adult cuts off at 17 or 18 depending on who you ask, and New Adult takes over at 18/19 and covers the twenties. The issues and themes covered are usually different, too. Less coming of age, more figuring out how to navigate the adult world. I only know because I thought I had written a young adult book with a heroine who was 19, only to be informed that I was sadly mistaken 🙂

  3. This has been on my to-read list forever, both because of the movie and because so many people seem to love it. Contemporary is definitely not my favorite genre though and teen angst isn’t my favorite subject, so I keep putting it off! Thanks for the helpful review 🙂

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