What is most notable about this funny, touching, memorable first novel from Stephen Chbosky is the resounding accuracy with which the author captures the voice of a boy teetering on the brink of adulthood. Charlie is a freshman. And while's he's not the biggest geek in the school, he is by no means popular. He's a wallflower--shy and introspective, and intelligent beyond his years, if not very savvy in the social arts. We learn about Charlie through the letters he writes to someone of undisclosed name, age and gender; a stylistic technique that adds to the heart-wrenching earnestness saturating this teen's story. Charlie encounters the same struggles many face in high school--how to make friends, the intensity of a crush, family tensions, a first relationship, exploring sexuality, experimenting with drugs--but he must also deal with the devastating fact of his best friend's recent suicide. Charlie's letters take on the intimate feel of a journal as he shares his day-to-day thoughts and feelings.
This book is good. A whole lot better than I expected. While it's not the best thing I've ever read, it's certainly a memorable read that will stick with me for a while. I've been eyeing this book for a while, and the main reason I read it is because it's on my school's summer reading list. After reading this, that fact surprises the hell out of me. I'm actually proud of my school for providing some REAL books with narration that a teenager can relate to and understand.
Charlie is so likable right off the bat. The story begins right before his freshmen year. I found myself relating to all of his feelings so well. The narrative was raw, deep, and emotional, filled with so many quotable quotes. But, through this narration, you never really get to know Charlie himself. You more like get insight to what he thinks about the people and things going on around him. The brilliant thing though, is through Charlie talking about other thing, you do get to know more about him. He's introverted. He puts others before himself, which is good sometimes but not when he does it too much and begin to lose himself and think that he doesn't matter. The minor characters are all done very well too. Charlie's brother and sister are never named, not once. But they didn't have to be. I still felt like I knew them. Sam and Patrick were awesome.
The writing style was a tad rambly for my taste. Although the letters were meant to be personal and diary-like, so I suppose it makes sense for Charlie to go on random tangents. I kept feeling like I was waiting for something to happen, and the plot didn't tie together until the last 25 pages, where everything begins to make sense. Because of the not knowing and the occasional randomness, parts did drag. Though I did really enjoy the Rocky Horror Picture Show tie-in. (Time Warp was stuck in my head during all those scenes.)
The book deals with heavy topics. Drugs and alcohol, suicide, sex, bullying, harassment. It was all told from an honest and innocent perspective. You keep wondering throughout the entire book what the heck Charlie's deal is. What's the reason for the letters in the first place? And then it clicks toward the end and everything comes together and makes sense. And it's quite sad actually.
Still at the conclusion, you can't help but feel hopeful. Now, in my opinion this book isn't OMG. But it's still very good, and definitely worth the read.
So, I guess we are who we are for alot of reasons. And maybe we'll never know most of them. But even if we don't have the power to choose where we come from, we can still choose where we go from there. We can still do things. And we can try to feel okay about them.