Perks of Being a Wallflower: Book Club Review

Kailey 

I actually hadn’t read this book until just now and I’m glad I finally checked it off my TBR list. Before this week, I knew nothing but the “we were infinite” quote and whatever I saw in the movie trailer years ago. My expectations were high because of all the hype Perks gets, but I went in with a pretty clean slate.  I have to admit I was not prepared to feel so wildly indifferent about this book.  To put it simply, Perks didn’t give me a “book hangover” and most books that don’t give me a hangover are the ones I’m required to read for school.  I finished this book and immediately stopped thinking about it which makes me sad.  I think the style is part of the issue for me, but I don’t know.  I want to appreciate the letter format because it is fun and experimental but I think it hindered a lot of the book’s potential.  I didn’t feel very much for the characters or the overall plot.  I felt like I didn’t know anyone enough to care which is odd because the book is basically Charlie’s stream of consciousness.  I don’t know if I’m just in a mood and I’m completely missing the purpose of this book, but it just didn’t do anything for me. I know it’s not that deep and I understand the purpose this book serves for so many.  I get it and the themes are certainly important but it just fell flat and I can’t figure it out.  I am usually a sucker for cheesy teen books, so I thought this would be a fun read but it was difficult to get into.  I feel inclined to mention that, to me, “cheesy teen books” doesn’t mean that they don’t contain heavy topics.  I mean that they have lines like “and I swear in that moment we were infinite” and “why didn’t you kiss me,” and get all poetic about listening to music in the car and sticking your hand out the window and having ~crushes~. Overall, I am glad I read this book and I do appreciate what’s going on within it but it simply did not excite me.

 

Jordyn

Perks of Being a Wallflower has always been one of my favorite books/ movies. I believe I was in eighth grade when I heard about the movie coming out. Being an avid fan of Logan Lerman, I knew I had to watch it. The first time I saw the movie I immediately fell in love with it. Seeing Charlie go through all of these intense emotions and loss helped me get through a lot of my own feelings, you know, as the angsty sad teen I was at the time. I read the book immediately after seeing the movie and fell even more in love. Rereading this book the past couple of weeks made me realize how much it actually means to me. It made me remember all of the reasons that I loved it. I also was able to understand the story on a much deeper level. It felt different than when I read it before. I understood things more and was able to catch things I hadn’t noticed before about Charlie, Sam, and Patrick’s relationship. These characters that I fell in love with so long ago and who meant so much to me, were so much different now. I loved being able to read the story like I was another friend of Charlie’s. It made me feel closer to all the characters. It also made me realize that I really romanticized a lot of the book that I shouldn’t have. The characters are flawed and, even though it was obvious in the book and movie, I really romanticized the relationships they had. It’s not a perfect book, but I was pretending for so long that the story was perfect. Reading it now, being much older and able to understand the complexities of relationships, I realize that their relationships weren’t entirely great to begin with. Charlie relied too much on Sam and Patrick and them leaving really messed with him. He depended too much on them and that’s why it was good that they left for school. Also, Charlie was just not a good boyfriend to Mary Elizabeth. He was terrible to her and shouldn’t have dated her in the first place if he had feelings for Sam, just had to throw that one out there. Overall, this is still one of my favorite works by a long shot. I can understand it on a deeper level now and still appreciate it for all its worth. I will always appreciate the things it taught me about relationships and how complex people are. Although it’s such a typical thing for ~indie girls~ to say, it is still one of my favorites and probably always will be. 

 

Shannon

I read this book originally when I was 14 and extremely depressed. Like Charlie in the novel, I was suicidal at the time, and going through a severe identity crisis. Perks was like my outlet— it was the only way I was able to understand myself and what I was going through. I felt like everyone in my life, in particular to my parents, did not understand me or didn’t even care to begin with. I just felt alone, except for this book. That is the magic inherent in literature; it can speak to you directly and make you feel like you’re talking to someone who understands. I felt like Perks sang to me in a way only I could hear it. If I knew someone who had read the book and liked it, I felt safer around them, as if we suddenly spoke a language only the two of us knew at that moment. It gave me hope, in short, not to end my barely started teenage life. As an adult, I have so much love and appreciation for this coming-of-age story, even if I can only relate to it as my present self. This book is much harder to get through as I understand and contextualize parts of it much differently than I did at 14. I feel things differently now, including my own emotions, now that I’ve matured. However, it is still a fantastic novel and intricately written so as to explore the nuances of mental illness and adolescence. I have massive respect for this book as a historical site of myself that helps me not throw away or judge who I was, but love the 14 year old me that still exists inside. I can’t watch the movie for this book that was made, and not because I’m one of “those” book people, but because it is too visual a representation of my feelings at the time I originally read it that it triggers me in ways I still can’t fully understand. Though I’m hopeful more teens who need the book will read it due to the movie’s exposure.