The Perks of Being a Wallflower is about a shy boy, Charlie, who’s starting his first year of high school. For the most part, Charlie is shunned by his peers and — after his best friend committed suicide — he doesn’t really have anyone to talk to, other than his family. That is, until he meets Patrick and Sam (step-siblings) and their group of friends (or The Island of Misfit Toys, as referred to by Sam in the movie). Charlie is welcomed by the group and he takes a particular interest in Sam from the very beginning, but he struggles with expressing his feelings to her. As time goes by, Charlie starts to experience things he never has before; things like going to his first high school party, experimenting with drugs, his first kiss, having a girlfriend, etc. We find out that Charlie had something traumatic happen to him when he was younger and — because of this — he gets “bad” sometimes. By “bad,” Charlie means getting in these depressed moods, which usually happen around Christmas and his Birthday. When he was younger, his Aunt Helen, who was his favorite person in the world, died in a car accident around this time of year.
First of all, Charlie is probably my favorite character in a book or movie. I always felt for him. He’s just a genuinely nice, selfless kid. I don’t understand why he didn’t have any friends (at first) because I’d be his best friend in a heartbeat.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a quick read and I really enjoyed the unique format. The book is told in a series of letters that Charlie writes to an unknown recipient. He tells this mysterious “friend” of his everything he’s been going through in his first year of high school and his newfound social life. I think this is a story everyone can relate to. Kids can be cruel and — if you’ve been to high school, which I’m assuming most of you have — you know what it’s like. You might’ve been bullied or maybe you were on the other side as the bully. Maybe you’ve just been a witness to it. Regardless, it’s (unfortunately) something that’s bound to happen in every high school. The Perks of Being a Wallflower brings the issue of bullying to the forefront and will make you think twice before you make fun of someone just because they’re a little different. Sure, Charlie was a little quite, but did his classmates take the time to get to know him for who he really was? Did they take the time to put themselves in Charlie’s shoes? No. But, if they did, they’d probably realize what a sweet, smart, and lovable person he was. I can relate to Charlie because I was the quite kid in high school who always did his homework and never gave the teachers a problem. There were times when I could’ve participated, but I chose not to because it was “uncool” and I cared too much about what other people thought about me. The Perks of Being a Wallflower is all about embracing who you are and not being afraid to participate, which is something I’ve welcomed more and more over the years. It’s not about caring what other people think about you, it’s about finding the people who like you for who you truly are. Those are the people who matter. Those are your friends.
I think the movie stayed true to the book and I absolutely loved it. Logan Lerman was outstanding as Charlie. As I mentioned before, Charlie is one of my favorite fictional characters ever and if he was ruined in the movie, I woud’ve been devastated. Low and behold though, I think the movie made me like Charlie even more. I was also very pleased with Emma Watson‘s performance as Sam. No complaints there. I was a little worried about Ezra Miller playing Patrick because I saw some promotional interviews with the cast and there was just something about him that annoyed me. He was just a litte too much. After seeing the movie though, I came to realize that Miller was a perfect match for Patrick’s part. He was still a little over-the-top, but hey, that’s Patrick. All the other supporting characters did great as well, including Dylan McDermott (Charlie’s father), Nina Dobrev (Candace, Charlie’s older sister), and Paul Rudd (Mr. Anderson, Charlie’s English teacher). It was really fun to see the characters come to life and not disappoint. It’s hard to bring movies to life sometimes, but I think this particular film was so effective because Stephen Chbosky, the author, played such a prominent role in the movie by directing it.
The ending (which was the same in the book and the movie) threw me for a loop. You find out what happened to Charlie when he was younger and it explains why he is the way he is. This story is truly touching and I couldn’t recommend it enough.
I also have to say that the soundtrack for the movie (inspired by songs talked about in the book, of course) is awesome. I can’t stop listening to it. My favorite is “Come On Eileen” by Dexy’s Midnight Runners, which will forever remind me of one of my favorite scenes in the movie. It just makes me happy. Other artists on the soundtrack include: David Bowie, The Smiths, Cracker, and more.
I give both the book and the movie 5/5 stars. I think it’s an absolute must-read and must-see for everyone. However, I strongly recommend that you read the book first. Like I said, it’s a quick read and I think you’ll be able to appreciate the story more.
I’ll leave you with my favorite quote from the book. ”So, I guess we are who we are for a lot of reasons. And maybe we’ll never know most of them. But even if we don’t have the power to choose where we come from, we can still choose where we go from there. We can still do things. And we can try to feel okay about them.”