This story was very—interesting. Charlie reminded me of the girl from Go Ask Alice. Like the protagonist in Go Ask Alice, Charlie is what I consider to be, emotionally disabled. He does not know how to handle his feelings and as a result he comes off as troubled. And there are times where I got the feeling that he was also mentally disabled (which was clarified lateron). However, at the same time I felt that he knew how to think critically—sometimes.While I was being somewhat critical of Charlie’s character I kind of understand where he is coming from; in the sense that I sometimes feel alone and confused.
I found myself feeling sorry for Charlie, but a part of me viewed him as pathetic. I guess this can be attributed to the social mindset of male characters being strong and outgoing, so by giving Charlie characteristics of what you normally see with female protagonist, threw me off a bit. I commend Charlie for seeking an outlet (his diary) where he could vent his frustrations, confusions, and emotions. In addition, I think Chbosky was able to nail the adolescent experience on the head, from the discovery of masturbation to the high school life. I could easily see this being based off of someone’s life story. While I did find the whole “weirdo-freak” meets super cool “high school seniors” cheesy, I felt that it helped move the story along.
I agree with some of what Shane says. Charlie is not the typical male narrative that readers are accustomed to but Chbosky gives such a real voice through the epistolary form that I could connect with a lot of what Charlie was going through. Interestingly enough, the only parts that I felt uncomfortable were when Charlie found himself crying. However I didn’t see these semi-breakdowns as signs of being emotionally disabled. Quite the opposite, Charlie’s ability to analyze situations and be a listener for all his friends is quite normal. Like what Sam says towards the end, he never expresses what he needs and I found this very realistic. He’s a listener and a thinker, not an activist, but this doesn’t make him emotionally disabled.
Besides Charlie, I also wanted to analyze the way the book looks. As a male, I judged the book by its cover and by its title. But I was sure wrong when I thought I wouldn’t enjoy this book. The light green of the cover made me think feminine and the title including the word “wallflower” made me think of high school dances, which I wouldn’t find myself interested.
All in all, I thought Chbosky’s portrayal of high school life was very (for lack of a better word) accurate. Students go through very adult situations, such as drugs, sex, relationships, and family issues. I was very glad reading the novel, although depressing, I thought it could help a young adult audience understand what they or their classmates may go through.
And of course the ending, we all should have felt at least a little broken up over it.
I’ve never read The Perks of Being a Wallflower before this class. But, after reading it I immediately understand why it fits under the umbrella of teen angst. I can also see how it relates to The Outsiders, Catcher in the Rye and even On the Road as being a kind of quintessential teen angst book.
A quote that stood out to me as being very representative of the themes represented in the book was when Charlie was talking about riding around with Sam and Patrick. “I would tell you what it was, but truthfully, it’s not the same unless you’re driving to your first real part, and you’re sitting in the middle seat of a pickup with two nice people when it starts to rain.” The combination music, independence and that feeling of being young forever is something to relatable to teens I think. It’s something that everyone has felt at one time or another, and if you’re reading this book as an older adult, I think it’s something you probably wish you could recapture.
Looking at this book rhetorically, I also found a lot of things that I thought were very interesting. There was a lot of repetition. In much of the scenes where there is actually dialogue presented Chobsky structures it so that there are no he said and she said, instead, the dialogue just runs down the page. I felt that this kept the dialogue snappy and moving forward, much like a real conversation between teenagers would be. I also found interesting how Chobsky chose to end a lot of his chapters. He seemed to do the same thing that Spinelli did in Stargirl; he would leave open ended and shocking statements as the very last sentence which forces the reader to keep reading to find out what happens. At the end of one chapter, for instance, Charlie says he will never do LSD again. This is shocking and hasn’t been mentioned before so of course we have to continue reading to see what happens. Another instance of this is the end of one letter when Charlie writes “Something is really wrong with me. And I don’t know what it is.” Of course we have to keep reading to find out what the answer is to this question.
I absolutely loved this book. A lot of the characteristics that Charlie possessed I remember seeing in myself during high school. I am also a huge Rocky Horror fan. Reading this book made me think of high school. I don’t know why I never picked this book up, but this is my first time hearing about it.
Though I liked Charlie as a narrator, I have to admit he is an unreliable one. Everything we witness is from Charlie’s point of view. This could make everything biased. The only information the reader has about the other characters is seen through Charlie’s eyes.
I have to agree with Evan that the cover turned me off of wanting to read this. I saw the lime green color as being overly bright, and the minimalistic nature of the cover did not catch my eye. Because of this I dragged through the first letter Charlie wrote, but after that I was definitely hooked. I could not put the book down, and was actually pretty disappointed to have finished it (not that I was disappointed in the book or the ending… quite the opposite actually).
I also agree that this book has a pretty accurate portrayal of high school. Stargirl seemed more of an accurate portrayal of maybe the 6th, 7th, or 8th grade, and was much more innocent. It can’t be denied that the issues of sex, drugs, and relationship problems come up in every day high school life today. Therefore I think that while Stargirl is geared more towards a ten to thirteen year old, Perks of Being a Wallflower is definitely suited for the high school aged reader.
I absolutely loved The Perks of Being a Wallflower. I agree that Charlie most definitely does not embody the typical dominant and strong male character; however, he is still so young and new to the experiences of teen life. His struggles, emotions, and love for life make the string of letters so touching and interesting to read. Chbosky did a great job in making Charlie really connect with the reader on a personal level. Charlie is so honest about everything and really wants the “friend” in the letters to listen and understand his life, maybe even better than he does.
There is so much critical thinking involved in the book, especially since Charlie is constantly analyzing situations and always thinking. He is simply growing up and only beginning his discovery of the life of drugs, sex, and learning what group of people he fits in with in high school. This book definitely makes me think about how much more advanced younger generations are becoming and how much more they may know about these different aspects of life discussed in the book. I mean, to be completely honest, there were some really intense moments in the book that I even had trouble reading at this age. Some of the things are disturbing and sad- like when he was a young boy in a bedroom witnessing a couple…. right in front of him… need I say more. Or even when he takes LSD for the first time, or even when you find out about his Aunt Helen– you get the picture.
However, I really loved Charlie’s character- his feelings and his writing felt so sincere and real. I think it was absolutely wonderful when Charlie had the opportunity to meet Sam and Patrick and really develop a strong friendship with them. Despite his momentary spurs of happiness, I still knew he had so many feelings bottled up, and the end of the book put all my questions to rest. Everything made sense when Sam sat him down and told him he needs to do things and feel things and express things. And then when I found out about Aunt Helen, I felt so terrible, but at the same time, I knew things were going to get better for Charlie, which made me happy. He really loved life. It wasn’t that Charlie was depressed, but the whole time any reader would know that there is something messing with his mind, so at the end when you finally do find out, everything makes sense again.
I thought Charlie’s passion for life was so wonderful and his love for music was so intense that I kind of wished I could meet him and discuss music with him because music is an important part of my life. I found myself pulling up the Internet and looking up some unfamiliar song names from the list for the mixtape he made for Patrick (kind of silly of me, I know). Charlie blocked out the terrible memory of his Aunt Helen in his life, and as a result, he also blocked out many of his emotions and the ability to express these emotions. It’s as though he took the amazing moments in his life so that he could verify that life was real and that he was still alive and breathing because without these happy moments, he might just slip away from reality. It’s like that scene in the car where they blast a song, driving through the tunnel and he feels “infinite.” You just know how great he feels because he’s so straightforward about it and you start to understand how much he actually does appreciate life and friends. This book took me two sittings to finish and I probably would’ve finished it in one sitting if I had the time. I couldn’t put it down.
Text Reflection 2
I think one of the most brilliant rhetorical moves that Stephen Chbosky made was to make The Perks of Being a Wallflower written in a letter format. I think it was an important distinction than just a diary because a diary format could have just lead Charlie to seem as if he was complaining about his problems, as most diaries are used for. Whereas if he was writing to someone he was writing as a purpose, to tell a story and to entertain another so that they may be interested and insightful towards Charlie’s life and problems. I think also it was smart for Charlie to tell the story in letter format because in his descriptions of events he witnessed he explained them so straightforward that not only as a reader could you feel your self viewing the story first hand, their was a sense of humor that made some of these more difficult topics such as drugs and sex more light to read.
I think the epilogue was very important to the story, similarly as the epilogue in Stargirl was important to the story as well. In both books I think the epilogue shaped how we the reader left thinking about the story and how it would have been different without. In Stargirl the epilogue showed how she had a real impact on these students even 20 years later, enforcing the idea that it is okay to be different. I think in The Perks of Being a Wallflower the epilogue helps reinforce what the story had suggested about Charlie’s aunt Helen touching him inappropriately, but also shows Charlie’s growth from Sam’s speech about not just sitting back and being “a wallflower” but being active in life. I think seeing this leads the reader feeling positively towards Charlie as opposed to sympathetic or looking at him as weak.
Overall I very much enjoyed reading the The Perks of Being A Wall Flower. I think that there were many different story lines that is relatable to nearly all teenagers or young adults, from feeling like an outsider, or having sibling/family troubles, to being in love with someone you can’t have. And with all the different problems Charlie or the other characters face there isn’t a sugar coated happy ending, but there does seem to be some resolution with the problem that the characters are able to make peace with and move on with life. I think that is important to for young readers not to have things seem unrealistic but show that life is difficult but people are able to deal with it anyway.
I would have never imagined from only reading the beginning that Charlie was molested as a child, especially because his relationship with his Aunt Helen was very special to him. But after reading the whole book it explained a lot. While reading the book I made a couple of notes, one being the themes that the book came across for example drugs, alcohol, gay, relationship, love, family, hate, death, suicide, letters, sex, justice, and most importantly innocence. Right from the start you could tell that Charlie has a sense of innocence, which is why when I start to read it I thought he was a lot younger than he really was. I thought that in general he had a good life even though he’s been through two deaths in his whole life and both impacted him in different ways. He seemed like a quiet kid because he had many things that he kept to himself which is why he did not have many friends. When he does make friends, Patrick and Sam, they break him out of his shell and exposed him to different things.
At first I thought that they were bad friends because I remember my mother telling me that if any of my friends offered me drugs then they are not my friends, but my mom is old school and she does not understand the way things are now, so growing up in this generation I understood that its up to yourself to take it or not and you have to know what you are putting yourself into. Because Charlie did not have a strong relationship with his parents he had to experience things he never knew about and learn things through the outside and it was like Sam and Patrick were there to guide Charlie and help him figure out the ways of life which then helped him figure out what had happened to him when he was younger.
Innocence was very important to me while reading this book because every time he did something new it was like he was a virgin at it. He also observed a lot to see what others do and then he learned from them, until his teacher Bill gave him advice and told him to start particpiating because then he would learn a lot but for himself. i think that his teacher Bill was Archie in this book because Charlie would go to him with any problems he had and talk about it. Patrick was a very big influence on Charlie’s life and was the one that made him realize that he was a Wallflower. On page 37 he says ” You see things. You keep quiet about them. And you understand.” Charlie was always the listener because he wanted to be a good friend but he never realized how important it was to speak up for himself. I think that every Character expect for Alice was important because they played an important role on how innocent he was and how he grew from that through there friendships.
Even after he figured everything out I wondered if he forgave his aunt for what she did to him or if he got over thinking that it was his fault. But he did realize that he was the way he was because of everything that had happened to him and he felt infinite (that was my favorite part in the book) because of the relationships that he had built through it all.
This was a great read. It kept me interested from start to finish. I guess I enjoy the whole teen angst thing. My high school career wasn’t too crazy which is why I was so eager to dive deeper into Charlie’s life. Not that he had a great life, but he had a life that intrigued me. In this thing we call ‘life’, we usually pay attention to the foreground of things and never the background. But what most people don’t realize is that the foreground only exists because there is a background. Told from another perspective, I bet Charlie would be a round character that was just peculiar. But, because the focus was on him throughout the entire book, we were able to see the method behind his “madness”. We could get a feel for why he was such a cry baby. We could understand why he was socially awkward. And on top of that, Charlie let us into a few secrets that only a wallflower could know.
To every character in the book, Charlie was a silent observer. That’s the reason why people enjoyed being around him. He saw things and kept those things to himself (for the most part). But we, being the readers, (Charlie’s audience), were able to glimpse into the private lives of ordinary people. But lo and behold, coming from Charlie’s point of view, they weren’t too ordinary. At least to me they weren’t, because as I basically said before, I wasn’t eating weed brownies and drinking (too much) while I was in high school. And Charlie never got penalized for sitting on the bench and rarely participating.
Charlie made it seem as if being a wallflower is the thing to do. Charlie never did anything exceptional; however, he always seemed to seamlessly be a part of what ever group he was around. But then again, I guess that silence observation is needed once in a while. Charlie, or rather Chbosky, makes me want to be a wallflower…well, at least on my free time.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower was a great way to get into the teen angst segment of the course because it touches on how adolescents handle stress and the many issues they encounter as they grow up. The book touches on issues like suicide, drugs, peer pressure, puberty, and the list goes on. I find it interesting how the book is written as letters because it shows teens that when you have issues or things you need to share, you can write anonymously or in a diary. For example, when Charlie writes about his friend Michael who commits suicide, he shows anger more towards the fact that he was unaware as to why Michael killed himself because he was there to listen. When he spoke to the school counselors, they thought he was a little off because of how upset he got, I think they shouldn’t have looked at him that way because that could have been the same reason Michael committed suicide.
As Carla discusses in her response, having Charlie as the narrator may cause us to become biased because we see everything in Charlie’s eyes, however Charlie does do a very good job of describing the other characters and the things they say, which could try to put the story in a different perspective.
More importantly I love the fact that the title speaks about how someone who everyone else sees as a Wallflower, eventually blossoms into a socialite. For example, when Sam and Patrick bring Charlie to the party, he is welcomed with open arms and he ultimately feels accepted even though at school he never interacts with these people. When Charlie becomes emotional and starts to cry and everyone raises their cups to him, it makes him feel like a burden has lifted off of his shoulders and he finally feels as if people understand him. I almost view Patrick as one of the Archie figures because Charlie becomes more knowledgeable about how can fit in, in his school environment; he also learns that no matter how popular you are, everyone has issues works through there issues in various ways. Ultimately, I think this book’s scene creates the overarching theme of venting and distressing through Charlie’s encounters.
My first reaction to Perks of Being a Wallflower is that Stephen Chbosky nailed the voice of Charlie. His character is so beautifully naïve and honest that he has a certain sweetness to everything he does. His thoughtfulness and gifts were so heart-breaking adorable and really showed his youth and eagerness to satisfy everyone. Since it was all told from his point of view, he had an innocent filter over all of these adult topics like sex, drugs, abortion, homosexuality etc. I just really connected with his character and voice, and it reminded me of myself in many ways as a freshman in high school.
I generally dislike the whole “diary” approach to telling a story but I think that it really flourished in this book. This book is about Charlie; what he thinks, what he feels, what he does. So who better to tell the story than Charlie himself directly to his audience, the “friend.” I found it endearing but odd that Charlie picked this recipient on the sole basis that he was someone who turned down sex. But I think that’s a decent way to judge someone’s character, whether they take advantage of women or not. Clearly Charlie does not and it too bright-eyed and innocent to even know what sex is at the begging of the book. However Craig for example definitely lies and cheats on Sam, while still pretending to be faithful to their relationship. The recipient serves as a beacon of hope that the good guys do exist.
I think Charlie wanted to write letters to someone in order to not feel alone. So much of the story is hard to read because you feel so bad for this little guy. He seems so fragile and impressionable and his family hardly gives him the time of day. Especially the letter where he said he went to help his mom who told him to watch tv with his dad who told him to see his sister and so on. The only adult in the story who seems to acknowledge his brilliance is Bill. Especially since losing his Aunt Helen, who he was previously so close to, and his best friend, Michael, Bill comes into his life and seems to fill this void that has been left by those two characters.
The blunt, honest comments he makes, like never being hugged, as a reader, are hard to swallow because they are such a simple statements but at the same time says so much.
OK, so I tried to post this from my iPad this morning, and I guess half of my post got cut off.
I agree with Laura though, the quote she used in her post also stood out to me, but what stood out even more was the quote “and in that moment, I swear we were infinite.” This, for me, highlighted a moment I could remember from high school. That quote was full of warm memories I sometimes wish I could go back to, and other times am so happy to be rid of. I feel that this moment in the book, for an adult, is something that would stand out, that one might wish they could go back to, even for just a moment.
I also thought the book was effective because of Charlie as the narrator. Because he is not the stereotypical male character, I felt that the book more or less could appeal to either a male or female reader. I’ve recommended this book to both my god-brother (age 16) and my god-sister (age 14) in the past week. I feel like though this book definitely fell into the genre of teen angst, it covered a wide range of genres as well therefore is a good book for high schoolers to read.
Mehhh I definitely liked this book more the first time I read it- probably because I was young, and thought that I was philosophical because I enjoyed lying in fields wrapped in a blanket and contemplating the big bang…. I remember loving the whole idea of “feeling infinite,” and that is still a part of the book that I enjoy. I like how the books somehow translated how there can be this little insignificant moments in life that have no definition, they mean nothing, but if the right song comes on the radio, or if it for some reason reminds you of something else, or just makes you feel a certain way for no reason- they suddenly become INFINITE.
But yo- Charlie annoyed me. I’m thinking he’s autistic, I’m sure he’s adorable (speaking of, Logan Lerman who will be playing Charlie in the movie is DEFINITELY adorable <3) but the fact that the entire thing was written from his warped perspective sometimes made it difficult to read. It droned on and on and on. But I still love him- I'm not ignoring that fact.
I truly thought that the most fascinating part of the book was his relationship with Sam. I think that Stephen Chbosky perfectly captured the idea of loving someone BECAUSE, not DESPITE… ugh, so hard to explain but I'm going to try here…. it's like, sometimes in real life relationships don't have any definition. You might have some unreciprocated crush on someone, and even if there's no chance in hell they'll ever like you back, you still love them- and over time, as you change and they change, you STILL love them in some way that exists only because you HAVE to love them- the things that draw your two persons together in life don't just stop being there…. ok that makes no sense.
I really hope that in class we discuss how this book was written- in letter format to some unknown "friend." I'm having a hard time figuring out how I feel about it, and why I feel that way. I think I likkeeee it, but I'm far more curious who the person is, than I wish I were. And I find myself thinking, what made Chbosky think that this was a good way to write the story- what does it say about Charlie's character…. and I just can't nail the answer down in my head.
Lastly- as you mentioned in class about the "single line that changes everything" (SLTCE)- as the pages dwindled down to the last ten, five, three, I searched and searched. At first I thought it might be on page 203, bottom of the page, "But I wasn't walking to Sam anymore. I was talking to someone else." When I first read that I was like, "YO- He's schizo!!" but no…. and then at the end of the book, after realizing the stuff about Aunt Helen, I'm guessing he was talking to Aunt Helen. Mentioning that- perhaps the "SLTCE" is the whole Aunt Helen thing…. but you said that people missed it more often then they caught it, and considering the last two pages of the book were all about his recovery etc, I don't know how people could miss it…. althoughhhh going back to what I said in my first little paragraph, sometimes the book just dragged, so maybe people were so ecstatic to get to the end that they missed it. Understandable. Life is hard. Just ask Charlie <3.
Yiiiiikes. Did I seriously read this book as a ten year old? I think I did, and actually I don’t remember any of the events that took place. Which probably means that I completely overlooked them– these ideas were not even on my radar yet. “LSD” probably just sounded like a foreign abbreviation… Which lands this book probably into the laps of more high school students than middle school students. Or at least I hope. It’s funny to be reading these books again– they all came out at the time of our childhood. I must have picked it up just as a newly published book; those are always the most intriguing ones.
From the first page until the last pages I felt so strongly that Charlie had a social disorder, such as Asberger’s. My perspective could branch from a “cognitive fix” that I created from the start. Once I believed it, I was hardly shaken from my theory. Yet, it was just the way that Charlie spoke, so uncomfortably. His wording was strange. However, I thought about it– maybe it was because he was a boy. If I were a girl writing this novel, my diary/letters to anonymous, would have giggles and “haha” and a million “likes”. I can’t remember the last time I read a book in the boy’s perspective, let alone an adolescent.
I agree with Caley– it was so difficult to hear of Charlie’s experiences as a Wallflower. We watched his innocence completely crumble, breaking him down to discover his past. It also made me think twice about those wallflowers in high school– one’s that I can’t even pinpoint, because of course, they were wallflowers. They went unnoticed. In high school, when trying too identify oneself, people can behave in the most incredulous ways. That’s what Charlie saw. Was he non-judgemental? He was learning from them in a way, making him seem that he could not always tell right from wrong. Except when it came to injustice to his friends (i.e. standing up for Patrick in his physical fight with Brad and friends).
This book and the arrangement of characters envelopes perfectly the discussion we had about flat characters and round characters. Every time I read a book, when I truly become swallowed in, I forget that every character should serve a purpose. When it came to the ending, I understood completely why I should not have underestimated Aunt Helen’s character. Yet I was fooled again, just as I am with every other good book and story. I misjudged her place in Charlie’s life, at the time it seemed just a short anecdote that this woman was in his life.
The writing was hard for me to read at times. Charlie gave me the same feeling of when I talk to someone that rambles. You veer off at times and then hear something interesting, having to backtrack and explain it all over. The ending however, I loved the rhythm that Stephen Chbosky included– repeating the first paragraph of the book.
I had never read The Perks of Being a Wallflower before, but I had heard of it. I bought the book over the summer and I read it in one night. I started it as just some pre-bedtime reading and ended up staying glued to the book until I was done.
I have to agree with the quote that Laura mentioned of Charlie riding around with Sam and Patrick. To me driving around in a car late at night with your friends is one of those moments that sometimes you just stop and think about. At least for me, that imagery really summed up my high school experience. It’s a very simple moment in time, but since Charlie is so observant about everything, he really appreciates it and it made me as the reader appreciate like moments in my own life as well.
I also liked Chbosky’s method of the book being written through letters. The “friend” that he is writing to is the one person that Charlie can truly talk to and tell everything to. To everyone else in his life, Charlie is an observer. Even when he makes friends with the older kids, he never really talks about himself. He is the one person that all of his friends turn to to confide in. A prime example of this is the relationship between Charlie and Patrick. Charlie is let in on Patrick’s relationship, and is the one who stands by him when he and his boyfriend end things. Charlie is so much of an observer and listener that he goes as far to let Patrick kiss him while he is upset. This shows how passive he is but also shows how eager he is to please his friends. Most of his friendships are one-sided in the way, with Charlie usually acting as the brace for the other person, which is why he must be able to confide in and get support from the “friend” in letters.
I think that the format of the novel being in letter form is great, and as I read the book I totally forgot that Charlie was writing to someone. As I think back on everything he wrote, I wish I knew how the person he sent the letters to would respond. Imagine getting all of these strange letters for some kid who has a serious case of teen angst.
Speaking of teen angst, Charlie is the typical teen, yet his story has the undertones of being sexually abused. Its subtle but Charlie’s aunt sexually abused him as a child and thats why his relationships with others are so complicated. After reading this story numerous times, every time something about his aunt comes up, I always get this gut reaction that something is not right. Reading this novel the first time going into high school I did not notice the subtle hints of sexual abuse but I noticed them more recently through a more mature perspective. I wish that the abused had been more obvious because it would have lent more to the story but at the same time I still enjoyed the novel. I do not think the book would be nearly as “appropriate” for young teens if the abuse had been openly discussed.
I think that it is crucial to the story that at the beginning Charlie looses his best friend who commits suicide. The way in which Charlie adventures into high school is because he does not have that friend in his life anymore. It forces Charlie out of his comfort zone, which many people can never do, and changes how he acts and looks at the world. I think that the characters within the novel are very relatable and very well described. I could picture of the characters in my mind. Which brings me to a new issue…I am very concerned the movie will not live up to how my mind has created these characters to be. Every time I have read this novel, every character and setting as always been the same in my mind. Hermione…I mean Emma Watson… is not how I imagined Sam.
Also, “Love always, Charlie”, always gives me a bad vibe. He doesn’t know who he is writing to so I find it peculiar that he would write “Love always”.
“And in a moment, I swear we were infinite”(Chbosky, 39)
I am still figuring out who is the “Archie” character for the book…any ideas?
Wallflower: (N) A person who because of shyness, unpopularity, or lack of partner, remains at the side at a party or dance.
I freaking LOVE this book. First time I read this book I couldn’t put it down. For some reason I was drawn to the story. Reading it the second time I saw everything in a different perspective and now understand why he was so psychologically messed up in the mind. I used to feel really sorry for Charlie and almost found him pathetic. Now that I read it I think wow he is actually stronger than what people perceives him to be.
Unlike Stargirl we were able to see the story through Charlie’s perspective. I disagree with Carla when she said that he is unreliable as a narrator. Who is better than to tell his experience but himself? When I go back to my journal on Stargirl I realize that Perk’s is such a better representation of a high school story. Stargirl is very sugar coated and now that I realize almost one of those old Disney Channel movies.
Analyzing the cover surprisingly did not turn me off or judge the book. It is very plain but brilliant. There is so much complexity in this book that you just have to open it and be drawn to it. Looking at the back cover I was more drawn to the book knowing that the fact that it was an MTV book. Since a young age I have been obsessed with MTV so just seeing their logo drew me more to read it.
As for the “Archie” character that is in every book. To me it is Charlie’s Aunt. What do you think?
“And in a moment, I swear we were infinite”(Chbosky, 39)
There’s just something about line…
Anyways, I really enjoyed The Perks of Being a WallfLower. Yes. it dragged on too long, but the truth is, it had to. Afterall, the Charlie character is a writer who we learn in the story is practicing his reading and writing.
It’s definitely a great technique on the writer’s part. We know that Charlie writes the way he speaks, so why not write the story the same way, especially since the story is written in the first person.
Looking back, a book like Wallflower is what I should have been reading when I was younger (I was reading series like Mary Kate and Ashley or similar stuff). It’s so challenging, I think, for a young adult reader because not everything is revealed exactly in the book. A lot is about inference. As a young reader, that really helps improve reading comprehension skills.
The subject matter of the book is also very heavy. Sex, drugs/alcohol. I wasn’t thinking these things in HS. Of course now with Gossip Girl and other similar series, it seems normal and it seems like what all teenagers, do, but I persoanlly was not thinking about sex, drugs/alcohol in HS at all. This book was written in 1999. So i can only imagine the shock.
I can’t wait to discuss the character of Charlie in class. I know the deaths of his aunt and best friend definitely left him a bit mentally disturbed, but within the first few pages, I sensed that there was something not quite right with him, like some sort of mental illness. I would love to hear some thoughts on it in class.
Something that was satifying to me was the fact that Charlie’s character did not have the typical male voice and tone. Yes, he was crushing on Sam, thinking about sex, etc. very “boy” stuff, but he was still very calm and not beligerent as films and some books make their male character.
After reading this book for the first time, I must say that I am so excited to see a movie of this book. There are a lot of references to bands, books and music that are made, that are a bit dated. I think that it will be intersting to see how the writers of the movie deals with these issues if the story is to take place in current times.
And Emma Roberts as Sam? I don’t see it all.
This fell flat to me- in that the characters voice seemed artificially simplified. Rather than the deep-seated contradictions that exist in the thoughts of “real” teenagers he demonstrates a lucidity that’s inconsistent to the setting. In the retrospect of instant consideration I suppose I could see that this might be consistent. The passivity of the character is made that much more palpable by a voice which never seems to register outside of a narrow band of emotion. I think my gut reaction is as much a personal unease as it is a critical objection to the style. This book hit a direct hit and felt incredibly distant at the same time. It’s not my style to open up to strangers but I don’t think I can adequately couch my reaction without doing so a little.
Two fun facts about myself. One; I am a walking talking receptacle of human grief and emotion and Two I lost my mother at 14. So no I don’t literally know exactly how this kid does or should feel but I know people who’ve been in his position. Some turn out okay- if they get help and a lot don’t. I know personally a lot about grief and loss (especially the loss of childhood) and it makes his passivity and misdirected rage extremely frustrating. Please don’t interpret this as victim blaming because I know he was doing the best he could (and yes I get he was a fictional character). Its just- that that sort of sweet cloying taste of powerlessness that drags him down is toxic.
So from a narrative perspective spot on Chbosky, this is believable and resonant and deeply moving. I’m not sure it will do anything to help those it seems addressed to. I think rage is a hell of a useful anesthetic but if it gets people talking and it help’s end “he’s a lucky boy” type jokes then I’m all for it. From a real life perspective it works really well- It doesn’t seem the author had any personal experience in abuse victims beyond research and if this is indeed the case than his is the best kind- that which rings like personal experience. The book is deeply sympathetic and respectful in fact It’s children’s style subtlety even if a choice made towards audience and not narrative generates further sympathy from me than a more simplistic approach would.
Audience is everything here- as an (almost) adult I found this fascinating in a way a young teen or child might not. But they can associate with the fundamental questions of identity and self narrative in a way I cannot. Like a good fantasy novel Chbosky’s book is a playground for Charlie that conforms to the needs of the character rather than adhering to a strict setting. But unlike a fantasy novel where artificial rules of magic or science would stand out open the sprawling hallways of Charlie’s mind. In this playground we experience grief as a palpable experience and leave I believe as better people for it.
Call me sheltered or naive, but I can’t imagine having read this book at least until late high school because of the presence of so many mature themes. Even then, I’m doubtful of how comfortable I would have felt and how much I would have understood. Despite this, I think Chbosky’s intended audience is late middle school/early high school students based on the language and the age of Charlie. The observation that parts of this book were iffy for me to read now, let alone as a person in the intended audience, made me realize/remember that adolescents today are faced with different issues than I was at that age, although it doesn’t seem that long ago. However, the book was published in 1999, defeating my theory in some ways. This lead me to the conclusion that although there are mature themes present in the book, not all adolescents in the intended audience will understand all aspects of the book until they reread it later in life, therefore justifying for me the themes’ presence.
Although I may not agree, or want to accept, that adolescents are already aware of such issues such as sex, drugs, suicide and more at this age, I think Chbosky did a wonderful job writing in the style and point of view of Charlie. I can only imagine how difficult this project must have been: as a professional writer, having to go back to when you were 13 and write in that style for “a year” and improve your structure and vocabulary use as the book progresses. I also thought that Chbosky perfectly captured the tone of the confused, wanting-to-fit-in, nervous, troubled character of Charlie and liked the diary feeling that Chbosky created, feeling like I had a more intimate understanding of Charlie. Finally, I enjoyed his structure and arrangement of the story. I think one of the reasons I read this book in two sittings was because I was so nervous and worried about Charlie, providing a sense of suspense to the book. I liked the fact that we didn’t learn about what Aunt Helen did to Charlie until the very end because it added to the suspense about why Charlie was experiencing what he was going through, and also provided a surprise ending.
Overall, I enjoyed the book and learning about the trials of Charlie, although it did take me a while to get used to the quirkiness and presence of so many of what I consider mature themes.