I was recommended this book by my brother, and “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” by Stephen Chbosky is your classic Bildungsroman. The book is written from the perspective of “Charlie” as a series of anonymous letters to a person only ever referred to as “friend”. Charlie is a teenager who is reeling after his best (and only) friend committed suicide. Shy and introspective, he finds himself having to renegotiate his life when he is befriended by Sam and Patrick, inseparable and extroverted step-siblings who bring him out of his shell.
I just couldn’t get into this book. The protagonist is such a Mary Sue that the book just isn’t believable. Charlie, who flip flops between being saccharine and silent, undergoes very little character development aside from reliving some trauma towards the end of the novel. It is everyone else who has to adjust to Charlie, because Charlie is perfect – it’s just nobody can see it yet, and everyone is constantly surprised by Charlie’s brilliance and insight. The book really does read a lot like the author is himself trying to have another go at highschool, except this time the highschool is better.
Another thing that irks me about books like this is when the main character (himself an aspiring writer) is constantly told by other characters how great his writing is, but the illusion is completely broken because the writing of the actual book just isn’t that good. Even for the voice of a highschool student, it’s very simplistic and literal.
I feel like I’m being a bit of a negative Nancy about “The Perks of Being a Wallflower”. Although a bit uninspired, it is rather a sweet book. Where Charlie himself is a bit lacklustre, some of his friends, especially Patrick, are actually quite good characters. Ultimately, it’s an easy read; full of whimsy and probably best read outside over a lazy weekend with a cup of tea.