Thursday, January 3, 2013

Book #1: The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Title: The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Author: Stephen Chbosky

Date started reading: Jan. 3, 2013
Date finished reading:  Jan. 7, 2013

Publish date: February 1999
ISBN: 978-0671027346
Number of pages: 213

Official summary: "standing on the fringes of life... offers a unique perspective. but there comes a time to see what it looks like from the dance floor. since its publication, stephen chbosky’s haunting debut novel has received critical acclaim, provoked discussion and debate, grown into a cult phenomenon with over a million copies in print, and inspired a major motion picture. the perks of being a wallflower is a story about what it’s like to travel that strange course through the uncharted territory of high school. the world of first dates, family dramas, and new friends. of sex, drugs, and the rocky horror picture show. of those wild and poignant roller-coaster days known as growing up."

Movie trailer:

How I obtained the book: Received as a Christmas gift

Pre-reading commentary:
  • I had heard many good things about this book for a long time, but it never seemed to me like a book I'd enjoy. Then the movie came out, and I heard more good things about it. I ended up watching the movie one night out of boredom, and it did turn out to be something I liked, so I thought I'd read the book too. 

Post-reading commentary:
  •  I think the main reason I spend most of my time reading books about vampires, witches, fallen angels, etc. is because I want to escape into a reality with fictional demons instead of dealing with the demons that exist in the real world, especially those that exist in my own life. This book was one of the rare times when I have ventured into real demons (even though this is a work of fiction). This book covers sexual abuse, child abuse, domestic violence, child molestation, alcoholism, drug abuse, and mental health issues. I knew reading this would be hard, but I didn't expect the writing to be quite so well that it totally shattered my sanity for a couple days.... shattered in a good way, if that's even possible. 
  • I knew from watching the movie that Charlie was going to be depressed in the book and that he's a victim of molestation, even though he doesn't realize it. Somehow I didn't think about how hard it would be to read the book through the process of Charlie coming into terms with and actually remembering the abuse that he had blocked out. The book does an amazing job at portraying the mental/emotional process of going through that. Charlie talks about how his psychiatrist keeps asking him weird questions about his childhood that he doesn't quite understand, but later he remembers being molested by his aunt when he was younger and suddenly those questions make sense. Then Charlie has a breakdown and winds up in a mental hospital for a while. Yep, that's very similar to my own life. It's hard to read... even if I know this is a fictional account of it.
  • The structure of the book itself is pretty genius. Instead of chapters, the book is divided into four parts consisting of letters Charlie writes to some unknown "friend." It never really explains who this person is, and Charlie wants to remain anonymous to whomever he's sending his letters to. At first, I thought maybe he was writing letters to some fictional person but not ever mailing them, but the book does mention him actually mailing the letters several times, so I guess he really is supposedly writing to a specific person. Since it's narrated through these letters, you only know what Charlie wants the reader to know when he wants the reader to know it. It's very similar to picking up someone's journal and reading it because he does reveal some very intimate details of his life, but you don't always get to know everything that's happened. You're left to fill in the blanks yourself between what is revealed in the letters. 
  • I wonder what I would do if some anonymous person started sending me letters like this. I wonder if I would read them. I wonder if I would try to figure out who the writer was. I wonder what I would've done when the letters suddenly stopped coming when Charlie goes into the hospital for a couple months.
  • Because Charlie reveals things in fragments (and actually remembers the molestation in fragments), the book reminded me a lot of when I read "The Tracey Fragments" by Maureen Medved. Both books are so well at portraying a young mind with mental health issues that it's hard sometimes to remember that these books are fiction. They feel more raw and realistic than some of the memoirs I've read.

Memorable quotes:
  • "It's just that sometimes people use thought to note participate in life." ~ Bill
  • "Charlie, we accept the love we think we deserve." ~ Bill
  • "Not everyone has a sob story, Charlie, and even if they do, it's no excuse." ~ Charlie's dad
  • "Old pictures look very rugged and young, and the people in the photographs always seem a lot happier than you are." ~ Charlie
  • "I don't know if you've ever felt like that. That you wanted to sleep for a thousand years. Or just not exist. Or just not be aware that you do exist. Or something like that. I think wanting that is very morbid, but I want it when I get like this. That's why I'm trying not to think. I just want it all to stop spinning." ~ Charlie

Buy on The Perks of Being a Wallflower

1 comment:

  1. So pleased to see you are going to continue this blog in 2013. I too have heard great things about this book. Look forward to seeing what you make of it.