The Perks Of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

There are books you want to tell everyone about, stories you want everyone to read, those books where the voice is so powerful it haunts you long after the last page is turned and the book is closed. This is one of them.

I listened to this book. I now want to get my own copy to read. I might even rent the movie.

It isn't often that I am blown away by voice in writing, but I think I gushed about it at least 5 times during this book. I suspect that Johnny Heller's narration accentuated this. No matter, Stephen Chbosky has created an unforgettable character.

Charlie narrates his story through letters to an anonymous reader. He will burrow his way inside your psyche. While he was in mine I revisited my own coming of age 30 years before his time. I contemplated my children's experiences of this process since they grew up in Charlie's era.

Charlie is a complicated contradiction. There is something about him that makes him different from his peers. It's not just that he is brilliant, although genius poses its own social problems for kids. He has serious mental health issues, but it's more than this. I wondered if he was on the autism spectrum. Ultimately Charlie is outsider and insider at the same time.

He is more than a character in a book. Charlie is me, you, all of us. These letters are written to us. Right off the bat he lets the reader know that he has high expectations of us because we "listen and understand and didn't try to sleep with that person at that party even though you could have."

If I get this book for our library it will have to go on the grade seven shelf. I'm not sure if they will be ready for it, but it is most assuredly a book I would recommend they read sometime in their high school years.

I loved Charlie. I want to know that he grew up to become a truly fine man. I really do.

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