“So, this is my life. And I want you to know that I am both happy and sad and I’m still trying to figure out how that could be.”
This statement is the driving force behind Stephen Chbosky’s novel “The Perks of Being a Wallflower.” From the first sentence, the book made me feel happy and sad and I was confused as to how I could possibly feel that way.
The book is a series of letters from a freshman boy named Charlie. The letters seems to be addressed to the reader, who Charlie has heard of from a classmate. Using writing as a sort of therapy session, Charlie deals with the joys and struggles in his life by confessing all to the reader, his beloved pen pal.
“Sometimes, I read a book, and I think I am the people in the book.”
Chbosky does a fantastic job of forcing the reader to relate with the characters of the book. I find myself suffering alongside Charlie when he sees his sister’s boyfriend hit her or when he completely and utterly destroys his relationships with others. Sure, I’ve never experienced these things, but Chobsky is able to convince the reader that they have. While you want to take the small book in your hand and throw it at the nearest wall, you also want to continue reading in the hopes that Charlie’s life as well as yours will ultimately be happy. The author also includes scenes of high school in which the characters feel lonely or confused and these scenes appear to be universal.
Constant images of your own life appear in your mind while reading, not all of them good. The one criticism I have of this author’s work is that he focuses on the sad and bittersweet parts of Charlie’s high school career and very rarely mentions the happy parts. One reason for this neglect of sweet high school memories is the fact that Charlie has a self-destructive personality. He feels like he should accept the dregs of life and that is what he deserves.
“Sometimes people use thought to not participate in life.”
The main point of the book is to not let life pass you by. A year passes quickly, as I am finding out as my senior year seems to be slipping away. It urges you to take every opportunity that comes towards you and throw yourself into it completely. Even something as simple as driving through the countryside or listening to a friend’s radio. As Charlie says, head out the car window with a great song blasting:
“In that moment, I swear we were infinite.”