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The Perks of Missing Your Train: The Perks of Being A Wallflower – Review

January 5, 2013

A little while ago, I lost my phone. Well, not LOST lost, but left it in my boyfriend’s car and didn’t realise until after he’d left me in the station. Disaster ensued, I missed my train trying to get hold of him using all the combinations of what phone numbers I know by heart, and I ended up with two one hour waits between connecting trains on my four hour alternative journey home. Thank goodness I always carry a book, right?

The Perks of Being A Wallflower

Over those four hours, I absolutely devoured The Perks of Being A Wallflower. It’s a remarkably easy read – I didn’t mean to read it all in virtually one sitting but I kept saying to myself “just one more entry” until there were no entries left.

Charlie is a freshman in high school. The novel starts as he is facing the first day of term. It becomes pretty obvious very quickly that Charlie isn’t a typical teenager – he’s more socially awkward than your average 15 year old, and cries far too much. Annoyingly too much. All the way through the book. He falls in with what I’d probably consider the “wrong crowd” – seniors who seem to spend a large amount of their time skipping class, partying, doing drugs and encouraging Charlie to join in. That said, they also seem like decent kids, loyal friends, and even though Charlie is “unconventional” to say the least, they take him in, look after him and seem to really care about him.

A lot of people have written in reviews that they think Charlie is autistic, but I don’t think that’s all there is to it. Charlie is an exceptional student and a prolific reader, and also seems to have trouble comprehending and conforming to social behavioural norms – his friends frequently point out to him why the way he behaves has caused friction, even though he’s just being honest. However, The Perks of Being A Wallflower isn’t about Charlie’s social difficulties and possible learning disorder, it’s about him coming to terms with an event in his past that he has suppressed to the point where even the shadowy recollection of it causes him to become extremely anxious and upset. Without giving too much away, I think it’s the lasting effect of that suppressed event from his early childhood that has shaped him into the individual presented in the novel.

Now the big question is, did I enjoy it? Honestly, no, but not because I don’t think this is a good book, because I do. The Perks of Being A Wallflower isn’t the type of book that you take clear “enjoyment” from – it doesn’t make you laugh, it doesn’t make you cry, or inspire any emotional involvement particularly. It’s a coming of age story with a bit of a twist. It makes you think.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. January 5, 2013 11:25 am

    I absolutely loved this book, I also read it in one sitting! I agree, I don’t think Charlie is autistic, in my opinion most brilliant minds lack certain social skills if anything we all lack social skills in some respect. It definitely made me think and you relate with Charlie so much throughout the book. Definitely one to read again!

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