It is a coming of age book, like the story of its protagonists, that is candid. Charlie shares his stories with remarkable honesty, pulling you into whatever emotional state he conveys in his letters. When he’s happy, you can’t but smile. And when he goes into dark phases of depression, you can’t but empathize. The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a collection of Charlie’s most important moments and his realization of the need to live those moments as much as you can, be it a shortcoming or a victory.
Published in 1999, The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a much deeper book than it seems to be. It is easy to categorize it as a simply a teenage trashy book simply because of its general mood. But when you know that this book is one of the most challenged by parents in the United States, you are forced to reconsider. Why do parents feel The Perks of Being a Wallflower is “dangerous” to their children? Because the themes the book deals with are gut-wrenchingly real and they are dealt with in such a brilliantly realistic manner. Drugs, pregnancy, abuse, sexuality – all of these topics that matter to teenagers are approached in the book in a way that isn’t complex. The writing is very simplistic, approachable and easily comprehensible. At the same time, the book runs deeper than the easy language it boasts.
What’s the best way to ensure that your book gets a decent big-screen adaptation? Direct the film yourself. That’s how writer/director Stephen Chbosky guaranteed that the film version of his beloved 1999 novel The Perks of Being a Wallflower would be worthy of the book. And while Chbosky did an excellent job directing the film, most of its brilliance comes from his writing. Perks is a poignant story about an awkward high school freshman who comes out of his shell when he meets two gregarious seniors. As a huge fan of the book, I was prepared to like the movie, but I was completely blown away by how much it surpassed my expectations.