Perks of ‘Perks’ include engaging reading experience

“The Perks of Being a Wallflower” manages to create a likeable protagonist in spades. Wow. I fell in love with Charlie.

wallflowerI picked up “Perks” by Stephen Chbosky because it’s a coming-of-age story set in the early ’90s, similar in some ways to my current work in progress. Only in this story, our protagonist overcomes abuse. Why do so many coming-of-age stories hinge on this? I don’t know. But I suppose Charlie wouldn’t be the same narrator if he told a different story, so this, I must accept. Everything else about the novel is delightful, including his descriptions of teenage conversations at Big Boy, stories of his dramatics in “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” and the ending. I cried, it was so powerful. Loved it.

Charlie’s language is that of a teenager, albeit an intelligent, well-read teenager. I admired this, though I don’t think i could ever emulate it. He tells his story of sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll in letters to a “friend,” who is actually the reader — you or me. The effect is haunting and engaging.

I watched the movie first, and I confess to liking both. The book is beautiful, but the movie actually captures all the pop music references described in the book. Both the book and movie are worth experiencing.

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