Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Perks of Reading Perks

Memories of high school are still pretty fresh in my mind, seeing as I graduated about two years ago. In my case, I can still remember what it was like: classes, friends, clubs, hanging out, etc. Of course, we all have unique experiences at this time in our lives. I actually learned this when I first read Perks. I didn't fully realize that not everyone is a social butterfly in high school and it wasn't a complete breeze for all. This story of Charlie and his freshman experiences really made me think....

Is it really that hard...?

Yes and no. The novel describes Charlie in a way that depicts him as the "wallflower" which his friends later kindly name him. He is a kid that keeps to himself but wants to venture out. His character is great because it doesn't make him seem like just another "loser" or "loner" in some school. There's something interesting about Charlie, like a secret or something that isn't being said, which is what pulls you in (or pulled me in at least).

This novel is meant to leave you asking questions in some parts but also completely understanding in others. What it does best is bring light to experiences and scenarios that can be shared among many people. I've said this countless times but we all know what it is like to feel alone. Most of us also know what it feels like to be alone in high school or any other type of public/social situation. Not only does this novel address this but it adds things about relationships, illnesses, trauma, and other concepts you'll need to read the book to find out....but really, read the book. Its not a cliche story about teens who can't find their place; its a personal experience narrated by the boy going through it and he puts you right in his mind. It's brilliant.

Somehow, Stephen Chbosky figured out a way to incorporate a line in the novel that describes exactly how I felt after reading it:

"I am both happy and sad at the same time, and I'm still trying to figure out how that could be."

I directly identify with this quote because it's exactly what Chbosky is making me feel. He makes me feel for Charlie in his darker moments. Then he excites me when Charlie has a better day and builds relationships with new friends. It's an unpredictable plot that keeps me so interested in what's going to happen to these kids. The format in which it is written (Charlie writing letters saying "dear friend") makes it so personal it's feels real like if he's talking only to you. The intimate tone is very affective.

Of course, the most famous quote is also one of the most significant. It's one of those lines that you can feel in your heart as soon as you read it. You know exactly the feeling he's talking about. It's the feeling of pure joy and happiness that is very rare to come across. He uses the word "infinite" to describe the the state he and his friends are in. It's a feeling that many of us have felt one time or another.

"And in that moment, I swear we were infinite."

I think about this quote a lot. I hope to feel this feeling a lot more in my life and in the future.


  1. I like your narrative. My friend recommended this book to me a long time ago, but I haven't had the chance to pick up a copy. I like books like this that detail experiences that we all have, especially when the author is able to put you inside the characters head the way you described. Also, I think there is a lot you can do by way of comparison to Alice. She also has feelings of confusion, and not knowing whether she's happy or sad. There is no doubt that she is just as lost in wonderland as many of us were in high school.

  2. I love this book! It's one of my favorites so I completely understand how you feel while reading it. You did a great job describing that feeling. I think this could easily be turned into a research paper, especially one that ties into Alice in Wonderland. In the case of Perks of Being a Wallflower, Charlie is telling his experiences through a series of letters and with Alice, she's experiencing her adventures through a story format. Both are having incredible life experiences, but are simply retelling them in a different way.

  3. "I didn't fully realize that not everyone is a social butterfly in high school and it wasn't a complete breeze for all."

    Is it weird if I can related to both sides of that?

  4. I've been wanting to read this book for a while, and I like this narrative. There is a lot to be said when comparing the characters' experiences in Perks to Alice's experiences of loneliness. I think something could also be said for the progression of perspective (from Alice's perspective of loneliness to Charlie's perspective of being lonely) based on their age difference.