Books don't have to be new to be deserving of a review! On Fridays I flashback to some of my favorite books of all-time.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower* by Stephen Chbosky
Every once in a while, a book comes along that captures its subject matter so perfectly that it transports the reader to another reality. This is exactly how I felt when I read Stephen Chbosky's The Perks of Being a Wallflower. As someone who attended high school in the suburbs of New York City during the late nineties and hung out with an odd mix of closeted homosexuals, artists, drama kids and sometimes-athletes, I suppose Charlie's high school experience wasn't really that far different from my own. Charlie and I listened to a lot of the same music and dressed up for midnight showings of Rocky Horror Picture Show. But I didn't read it when I was in high school (it wasn't out yet), or even when I was in college or graduate school. I read it after I turned 30. And even 12 years after high school it conjured up such vivid images of the characters and setting that I could picture it all so clearly.
Many reviewers compare Perks to J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye. I will not be one of them. Where Holden was a loner, disenchanted with the world, Charlie was naive and eager to embrace new people and experiences. Total contrast. Charlie went in to high school alone because his shy social awkwardness (some might say Asperger's) made it difficult for him to reach out and form friendships. Luckily, Samantha and Patrick come along. Around them, he can be himself and so can they. There is a beauty in Charlie's pain as he struggles through adolescence, because he is so heart-breakingly honest. His pain is your pain. His joy is your joy.
I haven't yet had a chance to see the movie, but read a favorable review in Time magazine. I figure that any movie based on one of my favorite books with a screenplay written by the book's author and starring Paul Rudd as an English teacher can't be too shabby. I'll try to see it this weekend and give a full report. In the meantime, here's the trailer:
*You'll notice that I linked to the original/non-movie version of the book. I have a strong dislike for movie covers. It was really tough to get Amazon to pull up this result; all they wanted to do was push the movie cover.
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