In honor of National Banned Books week I wanted to read something in the top 10 most banned books of 2013. Perks of Being a Wallflower was on the list, could be read in a short period of time and was available at my local library, the trifecta! I didn’t get a chance to see the film when it came out but I knew that it had received positive reviews. Even though I had heard good things I thought it was maybe going to be a bit childish for my taste, I’m not much for YA, but I couldn’t have been more wrong.
This is the coming of age story I wish I had read when I was in my teens. Relatable and raw the characters for me accurately represented the confusion and beauty of trying to find your place in the world. “I think that if I ever have kids, and they are upset, I won’t tell them that people are starving in China or anything like that because it wouldn’t change the fact that they were upset. And even if somebody else has it much worse, that doesn’t really change the fact that you have what you have.”
Overall I liked the characters and the story, but I do have criticisms regarding the writing. I didn’t care for the main device, ie, using letters written by the protagonist, Charlie, to tell the story. I don’t think anything was really gained by having the story told this way and for me, having the recipient of said letters remain anonymous was strange and unnecessary. Also, if Charlie was supposed to be a bright, albeit troubled, 16-year-old then he should have been much better at writing to begin with. I really questioned if this was an intentional choice to have Charlie come across as mentally handicapped or autistic, but it seems not based on the rest of the novel. It seems Chbosky just wasn’t able to capture the voice of youth as he intended.