11. The Perks of Being a Wallflower

The Perks of Being a Wallflower - Stephen Chbosky

Began: Friday, March 28th 2014

Finished: Monday, March 30th 2014

I have this thing with books. I like owning them because I don't really like library books: they have stains that you don't know where they came from and bent pages and some of them (like this one) have random pages that are missing. I guess that's what makes library books special though: they go from person to person, and no two people had the same experience with the same book. 

I do, however, love libraries. I love the feeling of being surrounded by books that haven't just been sitting on a shelf their entire life. These books have been used and loved and cried over by many people. I think that is why I tend not to like stores like Barnes & Noble, and I instead like online stores like Thrift Books. I like knowing that the book I'm reading has multiple stories: the one written on the pages, the one written in the margins, and the one of the person who read it before I did. 

I say all this because my spring break began Friday afternoon, and I stopped by the library to pick up a few books from my list: this book as well as Jeanette Walls's memoir. 

This was my second attempt to read Chbosky's novel, and I enjoyed it so much more than the first time where it mostly just sat on my bedside table until I had to return it to the library. However, I really did enjoy it this time around. This is one of the many reasons why I am a firm believer in second chances: you may not like a book the first go-round, but when you try it again it's not so bad. 

I love that the novel is written as letters to an anonymous person. It gives the story a sincerity that you wouldn't get with first or third person and a true connection with young adults who are reading this novel because -in a sense- it almost feels like Charlie is writing to us. He's writing to us because we understand these things. We might not have experienced them, but we -Chbosky's audience- are wallflowers: we see things and we understand them and we watch as events unravel before us. 

The perks of being a wallflower are that we are relatable, and we -like Charlie's friend who listens and understands and didn't try to sleep with that person at that party even though they could have- are always there to listen when someone needs to talk. Before being exposed to this book, I always thought of being a wallflower as a bad thing and that I should become more outgoing and less wallflower-y (and maybe I should but that's not the point), but now I see that being a wallflower isn't always a bad thing. 

But sometimes it is. Sometimes, like Sam said, we have to take action and do something for a change. As wallflowers, we have to allow ourselves to experience the world and feel infinite when it matters most. We can still sit and listen, but the most important thing to be as a wallflower is ourselves.


"So, what's the point of using words nobody else knows or can say comfortably? I just don't understand that."

"I just think it's bad when a boy looks at a girl and thinks that the way he sees the girl is better than the girl actually is. And I think it's bad when the most honest way a boy can look at a girl is through a camera."

" 'I don't want to be somebody's crush. If somebody likes me, I want them to like the real me, not what they think I am. And I don't want them to carry it around inside. I want them to show me, so I can feel it, too. I want them to be able to do whatever they want around me. And if they do something I don't like, I'll tell them. . . . I'm going to do what I want to do. I'm going to be who I really am.' " - Sam

"I think that if I ever have kids, and they are upset, I won't tell them that people are starving in China or anything like that because it wouldn't change the fact that they're upset. And even if somebody else has it much worse, that doesn't really change the fact that you have what you have. Good and bad."

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