This week’s book review: Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

This week’s book review: Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

TO begin this most daunting of tasks, in reviewing a modern classic, I’ll go out on a limb and call Perks of Being a Wallflower the modern equivalent of J.D Salinger’s 1951 novel Catcher in the Rye.

The two compare in that their characters and life-lessons resonate deeply with the writers’ original intended audiences but are also universal in their message.

Perks of Being a Wallflower is, in fact, a little more subtle in imparting personal encouragement, but that’s perhaps due to readers being more receptive to that kind of thing in the mid 90s, as opposed to the middle of the century, which probably has a lot to do with the likes of Salinger.

Our protagonist, Charlie, narrates this archetypal coming-of-age tale through a series of letters in which the introverted teenager shares every detail of his high school freshman year, from the banal to the profound.

An ostensible wallflower and unconventional thinker, Charlie retreats into the world of literature, guided by an enthusiastic young teacher who fears that Charlie’s extraordinary outlook on life will limit his ‘real’ experiences.

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The likeably difficult teen embarks on a year of social and personal enlightenment when two, older students from his Pittsburgh school take him under their wing.

MTV first published Steven Chobsky’s novel in 1999 - a fitting vehicle for a story with such a conspicuous soundtrack.

Chobsky himself directed Emma Watson (Harry Potter) and Ezra Miller (We Need to Talk About Kevin) in the film adaptation, due for release this September.

Ashley Whittaker