I have just finished the book. I saw the film many years ago and have been intending to read it since – and now I have a Kindle I am finding it easier to seek out and read different books.
I really enjoyed this story. At school I was always considered a wallflower. I also stood to the sides watching than participating rather than interacting with my peers, I was quiet and socially awkward and preferred someone else to take the stage rather than myself.
The story is about Charlie who is about to start high school, alone, after losing his best friend to suicide. The story is set out in the style of letters to an unknown ‘friend’ from Charlie. In these letters he describes his high school life – making new friends, school work, having a girlfriend, losing friends, experiencing alcohol and drugs – whilst still getting over the death of his Aunt Helen (whom he was close to) and being an outcast in his family.
The letters are personal and you really get a feel of how Charlie is and the situations he is placed in. His social awkwardness, his grief and happiness. You really do feel how Charlie is in the different situations of his life and laugh and cry along with him.
As the book goes on, things get a little darker. Charlie starts realising he is not like ‘other people’ and does not know how to properly socialise with his friends appropriately. At one party (when he was dating a friend called Mary Elizabeth whom he had no feelings for) he was dared to kiss the prettiest girl in the room – let us just say he did not choose his girlfriend. This causes him to lose his friends in an instance.
Nearer to the end he finally manages to get the girl he wants, however he freezes when she touches him on the bed. He does not know why other than it is wrong. It then becomes apparent his Aunt Helen had sexually abused him and no one never knew and Charlie had forgot this happened. It starts to come together why Charlie is like he is.
The book in itself is an emotional roller coaster, but I believe that what makes it so powerful and a book that is a must read, regardless if you have seen the film already.