The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Stephen Chbosky (1999)

28 Oct

Between Chbosky being an Upper St Clair (read: Pittsburgh suburb) native, the Perks of Being a Wallflower film being filmed in Pittsburgh, and Emma Watson saying lovely things about our fair city, all of Pittsburgh has been blowing up over this book lately.  I feel like everyone is reading it, or has just read it, and is madly in love with it.

So, I read it.  I can’t complain.  Chbosky’s got writing chops. I just didn’t get into the story.  Every review I’ve read has emphasized how incredibly relatable the book is, but I didn’t much relate to it.  I liked the format of the story being told through letters.  Letters enable the author to get right to the important parts, without having to deal with that awkward space that comes between characters doing interesting things.  The plot device of Charlie’s intended recipient of the letters being anonymous, and only described very vaguely, ended up being distracting for me.  It was a total loose end, and while I can deal with a little unresolved mystery, a total loose end bothers me.

The twist in the epilogue also caught me very much by surprise, but not in a good way.  In this context, by “good way” I would mean an interesting twist that got me to think more about the book.  I did not think the twist was effective at that.  To me, it came out of left field, and I really didn’t recall anything in the earlier parts of the book that might have foreshadowed what occurred.


I suppose that for me, the best description of my reaction is that I did not mind this book. It wasn’t mentally taxing and it moved at a good pace.  I don’t regret reading it, but I won’t be in a massive rush to recommend it either. I do plan to see the movie (although probably won’t get around to it until it makes it to OnDemand).  My only hesitation about the movie is that I do not think it is at all possible for me to watch a film with Ezra Miller and think of anything other than We Need to Talk About Kevin.  (Sidenote, I did read that book as well, I just never got around to blogging about it. My thoughts about the book were fairly consistent with my thoughts about the movie.  The only exception was that there was a theme of forgiveness at the end of the book that I did not care for, and could not relate to, regardless of the monster being the narrator’s child).

It’s wonderful to see Pittsburgh get attention from books and movies, and I’d love to see this as a continuing trend.  While Perks wasn’t completely my thing, I wouldn’t rule out picking up other work by Chbosky.  He’s got the fundamentals down, now he just needs to find plot/themes that work for me (and isn’t that the task of every writer, to cater to me personally?)

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One Response to “The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Stephen Chbosky (1999)”

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  1. 2012 book list « BeezusKiddo - November 2, 2012

    […] The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Steven Chbosky (1999) […]

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