The Perks of being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
[Charlie’s group of friends at high school are doing a Secret Santa, culminating in a party]
[11th] The gift from my Secret Santa wasn’t anything special. That makes me sad. I bet you anything that Mary Elizabeth is my Secret Santa because only she would give me socks…
[19th] I have since received thrift store ‘slacks’. I have also received a tie, a white shirt, shoes, and an old belt. I’m guessing that my last gift at the party will be a suit coat because it’s the only thing left. I was told by a typed note to wear everything I had been given to the party. I hope there is something behind this.
[21st] [At the party, Patrick] stood up and walked into the kitchen…And he came out with three tubes of Pringles and a suit coat. And he walked up to me. And he said that all the great writers used to wear suits all the time. So I put on the suit even though I didn’t feel like I really deserved to… I think it was the first time in my life I ever felt like I looked ‘good.’…
[14th] … this was the day after I noticed that all the kids were wearing their new Christmas clothes, so I decided to wear my new suit from Patrick to school, and was teased mercilessly for nine straight hours. It was such a bad day…
observations: A lot of young people really like this book, and some say they found it helpful in getting through their teenage years. It’s now been made into a film, out in the UK this week. Charlie is not an unusual hero – he’s quirky, alternative and supposed to be very bright. It has to be said that there’s not much evidence of that in the book – his writing style suggests he is about 12, rather than his actual age of 15/16, and his maunderings on about great works of literature (like every other similar hero) is entirely predictable and yawn-making. Also, he and everyone else in this book cries an awful lot, which is quite surprising. But, it is readable enough, and some of the other characters sound a lot nicer than Charlie. There is an utterly bizarre final revelation, which seemed completely out of place and very odd.
Links up with: Catcher in the Rye and To Kill a Mockingbird are both mentioned in this book and have distinctive young person voices. Adrian Mole – now there’s a young person you really enjoy hearing from.
The picture is from the Bain Collection at the Library of Congress.