Read the Book First – The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Posted by Justine Solomons on 7 October 2012, in Recommendations

Review written by Julia Newhouse.

Buy this book.

Perhaps the most common thing heard in cinema foyers these days is how a movie was or wasn’t ‘just like the book’. The one universal truth I stick to is to at least attempt to read a book before seeing the film. You can never quite recapture your own imagined interpretation once you have seen the characters in the flesh. For example I vaguely remember ‘my Katniss’ from The Hunger Games being a lot younger than Jennifer Lawrence, but beyond that, the film and book have now become fused in a way that is both wonderful and sad. All of this relates to this review for Chbosky's novel, which has just been released as a film.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower pulled me in from the off. It is written as a series of letters beginning ‘Dear Friend’, and through these letters, our protagonist Charlie relates the details of his life, his trouble connecting with people, and the fractured way he looks at the world.  At a school football game, Charlie’s life begins to change, he meets seniors Sam and Patrick, and through them, their friends and their encouragement Charlie comes out of his shell.  We learn about both what made him a ‘wallflower’, and just how the time has come for him to stop observing life and start living it.

The novel has the most beautiful language, mixed with the simplest syntax, a combination that makes it readable, striking and completely enjoyable. I love to read, but this is the first book in a long time that I read from cover to cover in one day. I think I can pinpoint the exact sentence that got me hooked. “So, this is my life. And I want you to know that I am both happy and sad and I'm still trying to figure out how that could be”. A sentiment that aptly sums up how a lot of us often feel about life not only as teenagers but also as adults. There are linguistic gems scattered throughout the book, beautiful words that I can’t wait to see projected on the big screen. As far as adaptations go, I am dubious about the film being as good as the book (despite the author directing the film), but with that said, I have my ticket booked, and can’t wait to see Sam, Patrick and Charlie being infinite on the screen.


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