Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Dear friend,

"And in that moment, I swear we were infinite."

Have you ever had one of those moments? When you're with your friends and all of a sudden you have this weird almost out of body experience and you're looking down on yourself thinking, "I'm going to remember this for as long as I live." It's the ultimate feeling of being young and free, having no responsibilities, and for just one moment in time feeling  like you could live forever.

That's why I love this book.

I've heard so many people critisize The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Mostly, they talk about how Charlie was such a wimp because he cried all the time and he never knew what was going on in the world and how could he possibly be so naive and childish and so unprepared for the world?

That's what makes it so realistic.

I'll admit, most 16 year old guys aren't going to go around crying about every little thing that goes wrong, but cut Charlie some slack. He obviously has some deep rooted emotional issues that come from some things that happened to him as a kid. Thankfully, not all of us have gone through anything similar to what Charlie went through, but then again, some of us have had it much worse than he did. Which is why the brilliant author, Stephen Chbosky, wrote this:

"I think that if I ever have kids, and they are upset, I wont tell them that people are starving in China or anything like that because it wouldn't change the fact that they were upset. And even if somebody else has it much worse, that doesn't really change the fact that you have what you have."

He knew there would be people out there that would say, "Well Charlie is such a wimpy unrealistic guy character," and then when they find out that he had some bad things happen to him they would say, "Well Charlie is a character with big problems. I can't relate to that." Bullcrap. We ALL have some kind of problem, big or small. We've all felt upset, sad, lonely, we've all had those days when we've wanted to just cry about everything, but maybe we're just better at holding it in than Charlie. The point is, it doesn't matter. We all have what we have. Good or bad.

The most realistic part comes from Charlie's naivety. Entering high school and throughout high school, we're all pretty darn stupid. We talk about things we don't know about and we say things we don't mean. Just because we might know a term does not mean we know what it means. That's the thing. Everyone thinks they're so darn cool that they wont admit that they're just as lost and confused as Charlie. Charlie doesn't think he's cool so he doesn't have that problem. He actually has something most of us lack, complete honesty.

The second reason why people are so critical of this book is because of its subject matter. No, you wouldn't want your ten year old sister to read it. But for the age group it's targeted at (which is uh, by the way, adults) it's not inappropriate. Because the subject matter deals with teenagers, they're the ones who have been reading it the most. Still, the subjects it deals with is nothing we haven't seen on the most recent season of Degrassi. Of course, it was on the list of books that should be banned a few years back for anti-family, drugs, homosexuality, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit, suicide, unsuited to age group

Okay there. Anti-family? Um, no Charlie's family isn't perfect. But he loves his family. And his family sticks together through all of their difficult situations. And ultimately, that's what helps them all keep going. Drugs? So what Charlie smokes cigarettes and pot and takes LSD and has hallucinations. I was aware of all of that before I read this book. Like I said, Degrassi. Or that little thing called the real world that we all live in. Homosexuality? So his friend is gay and has a gay relationship. YES GAY PEOPLE EXIST. They explore homosexuality and the confusion that many high school kids feel about that topic. I don't see the problem. Offensive language? Are they for real? Most kids probably hear that same language in their own houses and if not there at school every day. Or even walking down an aisle in WalMart for heaven's sake. I'm not even going to get into religious viewpoint because the book didn't, it was not sexually explicit, and suicide is not a new concept to me.

My point is, this book covers just about every thing you struggle with as a young adult. We see it through the eyes of Charlie, who is just trying to figure it all out like the rest of us. That's why it gets through to us. Because we all feel like Charlie sometimes. Lost. Friendless. Alone. Sad. Confused. In love. Stupid. When I was reading, all I did was feel and understand. I cried and laughed and cried again. And felt some more.

Especially when it came to Charlie's love for Sam. He says over and over how he didn't want to love her like he did. He tried not to love her. But he just couldn't help what he felt. And that poem he read for Patrick at the Secret Santa Party. And his friend Michael committing suicide. And his sister having so many bad boyfriends all the time. And Charlie kissing Sam instead of Mary Elizabeth. And his recounting of when his family watched the last episode of MASH together. Oh my goodness, it's too much.

If you haven't read this book yet, you should. Just so you can feel and understand like I did and like so many other people did. I was going to end this blog post with my favorite quotes/thoughts/paragraphs from the book, but the list got too long and I've decided to make another post entirely devoted to that because it's just that good.

Now if only the movie was coming to a select theater near me. *sigh* That's what I get for living in the South.

Love always,

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