I went and saw The Perks of Being a Wallflower last night. I’d read the novel by Stephen Chbosky a few years ago. He, incidentally, wrote the screenplay and directed the film, as well.
I just want to put in a plug for both the movie and the book. The story is heartfelt and loving and really accurately and tenderly portrays some of the really tough stuff that some teens deal with.
Summary: “Charlie” is the alias of the adolescent narrator of the novel, who is about to begin his first year of high school. The novel is presented through letters that Charlie writes to an anonymous friend, whom he hears girls at school talk about fondly. Charlie begins his freshman year apprehensive due to the death of his only good friend Michael, who committed suicide several months before. He does not feel that he can lean on his parents or older siblings for support, because they never truly understand him. He also explains that the only relative that he ever felt close to was his Aunt Helen, but she was killed in a car accident on his seventh birthday. Charlie soon makes friends with two seniors, Sam, and her step-brother Patrick. Throughout the story, Sam, Patrick, and Charlie’s English teacher Bill introduce him to many new experiences and the letters he writes show his growth.
Thoughts: So, the story deals with sexual abuse, depression, drugs, suicide, GLBTQ issues, teen bullying, alienation, rape . . . But not gratuitously. It’s about one really lovely young man’s journey to healing and friendship and a place in the world. I would recommend both the book and the movie for anyone who works with teens just to get a taste of some of the crap they have to deal with. But I’d also recommend it to any shy kid, any bullied kid, any queer kid, any kid who’s having trouble fitting in, any kid who’s struggling with depression or death, any kid who feels misunderstood . . . it’s just so tender. I could also see it being used in a classroom setting to start to talk about some of these issues. If I remember correctly, the book is not overly large or intimidating.