When I started reading The Perks of being a Wallflower, I thought it would be an ordinary book. Because, how good can a book about being a teenager really be when you’re no longer one and the memories of adolescence bring back only embarrassment and bits of regret? I almost gave up less than one fifth into the book and decided to take the short cut and watch the movie instead. But my experience and belief in the age old saying “The book is always better than the movie” kept me reading and boy, am I glad I did. Let me say it once again if you don’t already know: Always, always read the book first and then watch the movie. If you cannot appreciate a story in this order, then it means you haven’t really understood it, felt it-maybe even lived it.
Because The Perks of being a Wallflower is a book (and a movie) that deserves to be lived.
Charlie is a kid. He’s writing letters. We don’t know who he is addressing them to, or if he is posting them at all. And it doesn’t matter.He is not good at telling people what they mean to him. Even if they don’t mean much, he isn’t good at letting them see how a particular experience with them could mean a lot to him. He doesn’t like the limelight. He hides in the shadows and observes people. He doesn’t judge, he doesn’t make first moves. He won’t do anything if he feels the other person doesn’t want him to. He will restrict his actions, cut back on his needs if he can just stay in the background. And he has the best, most golden heart a kid can have. You can’t help but love Charlie.
But Charlie has problems. He has lost his aunt Helen, the most wonderful person he ever knew (according to his memories of her) and he can’t seem to get over it. In fact, he has black outs and he is an introvert. He doesn’t know how to interact with people. Charlie is a wallflower.
Then he meets Sam and Patrick. Two seniors who teach him how to live, to participate and to be there, in the moment. They make him feel infinite, they teach him what its like to have friends and what is needed to be a friend back. They teach him about songs and his English teacher teaches him about books. As Charlie finally starts to stop being a wallflower and interact in his own life, he starts to learn things about others that change the way he wants to live. Then he starts to learn things about himself that he never knew.
About the movie:
I have a couple of complaints from the movie. There was too much of Sam in it, just because Emma Watson was playing the role. She is great and everything but The Perks of being a Wallflower was about Charlie’s discoveries and yet they chose to cut down on important things that Charlie picks up from other people. Such as his English teacher inviting him over for dinner (I swear this has nothing to do with the fact that I think Paul Rudd is very cute). During dinner his teacher tells him, ‘I don’t know if anyone’s ever told you this and that’s why I want you to know that you’re very special. You should remember this.’ (rephrased). And knowing this was very important for Charlie because he kept losing himself in other people’s lives (being a wallflower) and the last person who had said this to him had been his aunt.
They also cut back on Charlie’s sister’s role (this has nothing to do with the fact that I think Nina Dobrev is a great actress who didn’t get enough screen time and came across as irritating in the movie instead). In the book, his sister has a major role of her own and goes through an abortion. Charlie helps her out. This was an important part of the book as well because it helped Charlie understand his family history better. It also brought him closer to his sister and helped them bond.
The movie overshadowed all of this and focused a lot more on other things which were less important, just to bring Emma Watson into the limelight more. And and and also, I don’t like her with her hair cut so short.
Also, the letters haunting effect didn’t hit me through the movie. The movie was a comedy with touches of emotion. The book was a haunting emotional ride with the revelation of a devastating truth in the end. The effects of the book stayed with me more because of the way Charlie came through. Everything came to us through his eyes. But in the movie we were allowed the freedom to form our own opinions about the characters. We can immediately see what a douche Craig is and how mind-numbingly boring Mary Elizabeth is. In the book, we see everyone through Charlie, who believes in the goodness of each and every human being. So the impressions hit us harder, we understand Charlie better.
Still, I would recommend both the book and the movie to people, if it sounds like something that could appeal to you
PS: I will be on vacation for a bit so may not be able to post in the near future! Will be back soon.
Currently reading: Inferno by Dan Brown.