Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky (1999)

In this stunningly poignant epistolary novel, Charlie pours out all his fears and feelings about his first year of high school to an anonymous "friend," someone who apparently could have taken advantage of a sexual situation and did not. For Charlie, this is important, though the full significance does not become clear to the reader until the novel's end. Charlie seems timid and scared; he weeps often and abundantly, yet he is strong enough to push through all the tribulations and amazing firsts that high school brings--facing down bullies, the cafeteria quagmire, burgeoning sexuality, shifting family dynamics, making friends, facing new social situations. He's a quirky bundle of nerves, wound up tight, swerving erratically over this bumpy road that is adolescence. He's a survivor yet the vastness threatens to overwhelm him at every turn. The clarity of detail, the sheer terror, pervades every word, every sentence. Horror and comedy intermingle; strength of character prevails, yet this novel probes and punctures every adolescent cliche and leaves them all tattered.

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