This is not what I thought it was going to be. I mean, I didn’t look into it too much when I picked up the audiobook, but one of my coworkers said it was her favorite book, so I decided to give it a shot. I think I thought it was going to be a high school story from the perspective of a quiet kid on the sidelines. I mean, it kind of is, but it’s a lot more than that.
The book is a series of letters Charlie is writing to someone we only know as “Dear Friend.” The letters sometimes happen every day, sometimes with weeks in-between. We start at the beginning of freshman year for Charlie. He starts out not having any friends, partially aided by the beating he gives a bully, but makes a friend in a senior, first called “Nothing” and then we learn his name is Patrick. Patrick and his stepsister Sam become Charlie’s best friends, and he is later introduced to more people in their circle. Charlie is in love with Sam, but knows he cannot be with her as he is too young.
Charlie is not a normal teenager. We find out more of his story as the book progresses, such as why he is turning sixteen during his freshman year. He has a whole bunch of issues. Charlie is naive in many aspects, and the way he writes/talks makes me think he may be on the autism spectrum. I wonder if that comes across as much when reading the book instead of listening to it? (In looking up the question, it is not autism or Asperger’s, but something else. Also in looking it up, I saw a very spoilery thing, and then it made me mad that I spoiled myself. So if you’re reading this, don’t look anything up before you’re done! In the audiobook at least, it’s in the last half hour or so.) Also, he cries all the time, which is not normal behavior for a teenager. He is oddly innocent.
Something that strikes me as odd is his English teacher. His teacher assigns him extra books that he writes essays on, and the teacher asks that he call him by his first name, Bill. Charlie talks to Bill a bit like a therapist, but it still makes me uneasy. I see the potential for abuse there. (Turns out, Bill is fine!)
There are a lot of times where Charlie’s innocence and ways of thinking help him. Certain relationships don’t seem at all strange to him, and there are times when he is very supportive of his friends and family. But then he gets in trouble, such as with interactions with his girlfriend and by getting into drugs.
This fulfills the CBR12 Bingo square of “Adaptation” as this has been made into a movie (that I have not seen)!