Awkward is Special: On Reading *The Perks of Being a Wallflower*


In the company of a hypersensitive, overanalysing, melancholy, first person narrator who rambles on about his boring school life (sounds like me), reading Perks is tedious work. He goes on about the special people in his life, such as everyone, including a devious sounding teacher who lends him novels and makes him review each one. As it turns out, the teacher was genuinely interested in helping develop Charlie’s writing skills. Because Charlie is ‘special’– sounds ambiguous and unfair.

I guess the book’s fine as a psychological case study, as most contemporary bestsellers are, such as We Need to Talk about Kevin; this one tells the story of a boy whose traumatic childhood memory

or the lack of it scars his identity and personality so much that he’s unable to function normally.

One thing that unifies Charlie’s life story is his constant grappling with change or, to put it more obscurely, the vicissitudes of life. He’s unable to process the fact that people change, grow, move on, even die. Every time someone disappears from his reach, he plummets into the darkest depths of depression. Beginning with Aunt Helen’s demise, to the temporary lacuna in his friendship with Sam and Patrick, the departure of the above two for college,  even the prospect of a child growing up to become the thesis or antithesis of a parent and how the process continues for each generation — Charlie is obsessed with the terror of change.
As the book itself says, Charlie is a mess. He’s weird and ackward, prone to tears, loves everything he encounters, including songs,books, movies and people, and clings loyally, almost obsequiously to those he loves. Like most brutally honest people, he’s embarrassing to have around.

Despite his social failings, he’s adored and treated rather too kindly like you would the petulant elderly, by most. However, he comes across, to the reader, as tiring, his epistolary narrative tedious and dull with its irrelevant rambling and prosaic observations.

In short, the perks of being a wallflower are that people once they get to know you absolutely adore you, will call you special, will unburden their innermost thoughts to you, and you can absorb all the sadness around you, feel pent up and suffer alone. Quite disheartening.

CLOWNIN’ score: 2/5


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