Paperback, 231 pages
First Published 1999 by MTV Books
I walk around the school hallways and look at the people. I look at the teachers and wonder why they’re here. Not in a mean way. In a curious way. It’s like looking at all the students and wondering who’s had their heart broken that day . . . Or wondering who did the heart breaking and wondering why.
Charlie is a freshman. And while he’s not the biggest geek in school, he is by no means popular. Shy, introspective, intelligent beyond his years yet socially awkward, he is a wallflower, caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it. Charlie is attempting to navigate his way through unchartered territory: the world of first dates and mixed tapes, family dramas and new friends; the world of sex, drugs, and the rocky horror picture show, when all one requires is that perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite. But Charlie can’t stay on the sideline forever. Standing on the fringes of life offers a unique perspective. But there comes a time to see what it looks like from the dance floor.
The reason I used the books blurb instead of writing my own is simply because this is a really hard book to write a summary of. Perks doesn’t really have a plot so much as it just being a slice of Charlie’s life. Which I suppose it is. A one year sized slice to be exact.
He’s an interesting guy. Very smart, but quite naive and innocent. His new friends, seniors Sam (who he immediately develops a sort of crush on) and Patrick, are step brother and sister, and introduce him to a whole new world, a world of first dates, mixed tapes, etc, etc, etc.
The story is told through letters, from Charlie to a ‘friend’. So it’s one of these books that don’t have a huge amount of dialogue. He talks about books a fair bit, as his English teacher Bill is always giving him stuff to read and then write reports on.
Perks is one of these books that appears on just about every must read young adult novel list, and I can see why. It is really good, but at the same time I probably won’t read it again for a long time, if ever – if that makes any sense to you. On the front cover, the little snippet of a review compares this to Cather in the Rye, and I had similar feelings there. Only I liked that a lot less than Perks. To be honest, when I read Catcher, I was very underwhelmed. But I was younger, and this is not a review for that book, so I shall stop mentioning it.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower is only a shortie, so why not read it, even if it’s only once?