Sunday 18 November 2012

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

I'm really not sure what hurtled this particular book to the top of my TBR. I'd seen the title around a bit I suppose. I knew some people who had read it, but I'd never talked to them about it. I didn't know what it was about, I don't think I've ever read a review. I vaguely knew that there was a movie coming out, but haven't seen the shorts. But then standing in a shop contemplating the bookshelves I read Rocky Horror Picture Show on the back cover blurb, flicked through and saw that it was written as letters, and then suddenly I was standing there buying it.

I do generally love books written in first person, and really enjoy quirky voices, but I found Charlie's voice a bit hard to warm to initially. I got used to it to some extent, but never became really comfortable with him. In fact, I don't know that I ever really engaged with Charlie. Perhaps that's the point? Charlie writes his rather personal and detailed letters to an unnamed, and apparently unknown friend. I guess I found that a bit weird and rather disingenuous.

Actually I'm not sure that I bought the whole premise. Charlie is supposed to be a very awkward 15 year old loner. Except despite him being painted as an odd fish he actually seems to make and keep friends quite easily. He has an active circle of friends. Not the wallflower of my imagination.

I was a bit surprised to find that a student commits suicide on page 2. Michael had been Charlie's best friend the year before. Charlie has had his share of personal and family tragedy. But at times it felt a bit like the author had made a comprehensive list of problems to include- youth suicide, teen pregnancy, alcohol and drug use, homosexuality, mental illness, domestic violence. They're all there in Charlie's life in a town somewhere in the mid-west of America, 2 hours drive from Ohio.

Which all comes across a bit more negative than I really feel about the book. I was travelling whilst reading this and I enjoyed it as my in-flight reading, and enjoyed the book well enough, I just didn't like it as much as I would have thought I would. I did like the Rocky Horror references, Charlie and his group of friends go see Rocky Horror every Friday night. I did that for a while too back in the 80s. I haven't seen it in years, maybe I should dust off my DVD and watch it again? It must be time.

1 comment:

Sim Carter said...

I've read this book too and still need to see the film. I agree he does have everything but the kitchen sink in the way of problems to deal with! What I found interesting is that we're told Charlie's very bright and advanced when it comes to writing (if I recall correctly) and I thought his writing (in the letters anyway) was quite simplistic. I know the book has quite a cult following of teens, so much so the studio who made the film allowed the writer to direct it.