Monday, February 15, 2016

Book Review: The Perks of Being a Wallflower (Stephen Chbosky)

A moving book that in a way reminded me of 'The Fault In Our stars'. Life need not be perfect in order to be beautiful. And that is what I felt when I was initiated into the life of Charlie, a shy teenager. Written in the form of letters to an unknown friend, it chronicles his journey through high school. Love, sex, drugs and relationships, the book touches upon every aspect of his life.

Branded weird or even a 'wallflower', Charlie is prone to mental disturbances due to something bad that happened to a close relative (Aunt Helen) during his childhood days. As one goes through the book, one can realize the deep scars that abuse can leave on the mind of a youngster. That leaves him kind of incapable of establishing proper relationships. 

But the turning point in his life comes when he meets Sam and Patrick. Suddenly he finds that he is part of this very happening circle but he just continues hanging around without really being a part of it. "I really haven't said much. I just kind of listen and nod because Patrick needs to talk.". The line just about sums up his involvement with anybody including Patrick and even the girl he is dating, Mary Elizabeth. And that is something which Sam to him explains towards the very end of the book. Personally, this is the best part of the book and I read it over and over because I loved it so much. 

"It's sweet and everything, but it's like you're not even there sometimes. It's great that you can listen and be a shoulder to someone, but what about when someone doesn't need a shoulder. What if they need the arms or something like that ? You can't just sit there and put everybody's lives ahead of yours and think that counts as love. You just can't . You have to do things. " Beautiful lines indeed. Just the perfect description of a wallflower, isn't it ?

In the intervening chapters, the author explores the hidden world of gay relationships. Patrick ,who is gay and is unpretentious about it loves Brad who is secretive about his sexual orientation. But when they are discovered by Brad's father, Brad gets beaten up pretty bad. Which is sad as people still think of homosexuality as a kind of disorder. 

Then there is the thing about the relatives. People who do not really like each other but still get together on important occasions to measure up each other's kids. Though it is just a filler in a great story-line, the topic has been dealt with in sufficient detail. Finally, we have the relationship between Charlie and his advanced english teacher Bill. Other than Sam, he is one of those people who recognize Charlie as gifted and very much special. The books that he gives Charlie are all classics and a must have for people who really dig that kinda stuff. But more importantly, Bill tries in his own way to get Charlie to live for himself first and then participate in the lives of other people.

Overall, a great book. 

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