|THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER by STEPHEN CHBOSKY|
Last week I was chatting with my friend and she mentioned that a re-read of The Perks of Being a Wallflower (TPoBaW) was necessary before she moved on to the next book in her pile. I admitted that although I had heard it mentioned many times, I hadn't ever actually read it myself. Her response (and that of a number of other people) made me afraid that I would be disowned if I didn't move Perks from my "to-read" to my "READ" pile ASAP.“It's strange because sometimes, I read a book, and I think I am the people in the book.”
|Many people sent SHOUTY CAPS messages my way that night.|
To be honest, I think I was afraid that it wouldn't meet my expectations (I know, I'm silly). It's been labelled a "cult sensation," and many of the people whose opinions I trust most have credited it with being not only one of their favourite books EVER, but a guiding influence in their lives. Kind of a lot of pressure for a tiny 200-odd page volume. I am incredibly happy to say that my fears were unfounded and my friends were all correct; it did not disappoint even the tiniest bit. In fact, all I've been saying to myself since is "HOW THE HELL HAD I NOT READ THIS UNTIL NOW?!" When I read, I mark quotes that I love so I can go back and find them again at a moment's notice. If you don't do this, I recommend it; I bet you'll be hooked immediately (right, Jenn?!). Well, normally I have a handful of stickies per book, but this time...
|That is a LOT of markers for 213 pages. o.O|
Suffice it to say, Perks is chockablock FULL of amazing thoughts that you won't want to forget. A huge part of what makes them so memorable is the narrator, Charlie. He breathes life into this story in a way that I hadn't expected. He writes letters to the readers, sharing his innermost thoughts and secrets, unloading the experiences he's having and cannot always deal with by himself. It makes it incredibly intimate from the very first page, which is what immediately charmed me.
“There's nothing like deep breaths after laughing that hard. Nothing in the world like a sore stomach for the right reasons.”
How true is this?! Perhaps not a particularly profound statement, per se, but something very real and identifiable. Throughout Perks there were thoughts such as this one, which brings me back to the opening quote about feeling as if you yourself were one of the characters in a book. So many new books these days have some kind of twist where the main character has some incredible power, or the premise is a foreboding yet intriguing idea of what may be to come of our world. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE these dystopian/fantasy/sci fi/etc. tales so much. But sometimes what you want most is a story where you slip into the characters' shoes and then are startled back into reality after realising you've been walking with them step-for-step as they undergo their fictional, yet at the same time real, journey.
The way this gesture makes me feel. You guys. Music is so important. Books are my number one love, but there's no way I could live without music, either. So the sentiment here hits me right where it counts. It's not some lavish gift or over the top anything. It's from his heart. That's what I love so much about Charlie; he is this pure, honest guy who doesn't fit in with his stereotypical teenage group, but rather finds his own little niche. I can't handle it. The song he's referring to is Asleep by The Smiths, which I think transitions perfectly into another quote I loved:“I decided then that when I met someone I thought was as beautiful as the song, I should give it to that person. And I didn't mean beautiful on the outside. I meant beautiful in all ways. So, I was giving it to Sam.”
|The fact that this is typewritten fits in with everything so perfectly. <3|
This is another aspect of Perks that just blew me away. Charlie is young, but wise beyond his years. Yet it never comes across as condescending. His tone is always so spot on it makes your heart ache a little. He's simultaneously innocent and far from it; in some ways his youth has been stolen from him. Being on the receiving end of his point of view is an experience that I just don't think I can describe eloquently enough.
|I mean...just whoa.|
Eight words that made me just stop. It's not even that these quotes are delivered in huge, sweeping moments. He just slips them in with the rest of his story and they can bowl you right over. I let people know I love them all the time; maybe even to the point of excess? But then I read something like this and it just puts it all into perspective again. The people in my life, and Charlie's in Perks, deserve that love, and so they continue to get it. After that one can only hope that the receivers know just how much it is meant.
“And I thought the last person who said that about me was me Aunt Helen. I was very grateful to have heard it again. Because I guess we all forget sometimes. And I think everyone is special in their own way. I really do.”
Charlie just makes me want to cry sometimes. I want to hug him and reassure him of exactly what he just said, that everybody is special. He spends the book sharing himself with his friends and family, and while he's not perfect, he's sincere in all the ways that count. It makes you want to tell him a thousand more times that he's special, and that his story is affecting you in a big way. Just yesterday my lovely Emma shared a quote that ties in perfectly; I think it fits Charlie and his group snugly:
“Don’t you dare, for one more second, surround yourself with people who are not aware of the greatness that you are.” - Jo Blackwell-Preston
Oh! I have to mention the books. Charlie, just like all of us, is a lover of books. His teacher gives him novels beyond those covered in class because he knows Charlie can reach and explore. Books are such a personal thing, when you think about it, so the way Charlie discusses and shares them means a great deal more than you might initially assume.
Maybe you've heard this quote before, but now that I know the context and the character who voiced it to the universe, it's honestly even more perfect:
|FAVOURITE FOREVER AND EVER AND EVER.|
At its core, this is a love story. Maybe not a traditional one in terms of start to finish, but one about acceptance and joy and sorrow and every emotion that you experience on that roller coaster ride. Of all the quotes I've shared (and there are about a million more), the one above is my favourite. Because those infinite moments? They're what life's all about.
What I love about this book is its evocation of depth, both in thoughts and feelings, through simplicity. It is not a difficult read in terms of the prose, but the ideas it puts forward and the quotes that are now branded in my mind are important and often all-encompassing. One fictional high school boy's freshman experiences and relationships translate into something that touches everyone, which I find truly incredible.
I own a paperback copy of this book, and that's all I've seen in bookstores in my area. But Perks is 100% worthy of the hardcover rating for its quality and what it made me feel.
A/N: I know I gushed, but it had to be done. I truly can't believe no one has made me read this until now (they probably all thought I had already lol)! It's being made into a movie with Logan Lerman and Emma Watson and I AM SO EXCITED I CAN'T EVEN HANDLE IT. The rest of the cast is fantastic as well, and while there's not a trailer out yet, it certainly seems perfect so far. So, if you're like me and late to the party, join in!! Then we need to talk about Charlie and Perks and how sometimes, you're infinite in a moment. <3
I hope you all have wonderful weekends! HUNGER GAMES NEXT WEEK. BE EXCITED. I'll be back with another book to chat about on Tuesday. ILY bibliophiles.