the perks of reading 'Perks'

/ 17 August 2011 /
I did not enjoy reading "The Perks of Being a Wallflower".

Why? Because it reminded me of me.

It started out innocently enough -- just as any other story does. Protagonist "Charlie" (that's his alias) writes a letter to an unknown friend-figure, and this first letter serves as an introduction to the bittersweet series of stories about Charlie's life.

But Stephen Chbosky's coming-of-age novel turns out to be more than just a teenage portrait. It's not just about crushes and parties and high school cliques. It takes you deeper and deeper into the dreary side of the 15-year-old's life: from social alienation, to sex and drugs (and a teeny bit of rock'n'roll), to buried pasts and the mental/emotional disturbance they make. Yes, it sure gets heavy.

It's that 'emotional disturbance' part that gets me, mainly because -- ugh, I hate admitting this -- Charlie's feelings of being down are similar to what I used to have. It probably was just teen angst on my part, not as grave as his, but I related still.

And that's what many readers find precious about this book -- one way or another, it's relatable. Lonely high school freshmen realize they're not alone. Overwhelmed little brothers discover that they're not the only ones. And, cutest of all, admirers who are too anxious to make a move on their crushes find comfort. That's because Charlie represents all of them.

The revelations in the story, however, are so serious and shocking, especially for the book's young readers. They're not so much as twists that alter everything in the plot, but they are perks in that they are eye-openers to a whole other aspect -- a darker one -- of real life.

Now that a movie version of this movie is being made, it's stirring up people's interest again. Especially because it stars young Hollywood big names Emma Watson, Nina Dobrev, and Logan Lerman. If the movie is even a bit faithful to the book, then I'd definitely wonder what rating it would get.

So here's a word of caution to young or sensitive readers: brace yourselves. This "wallflower" is not as gentle as it seems.

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