The Perks of Being a Wallflower - Stephen Chbosky There's a certain kind of “coming of age” novel that I simply cannot relate to. Books like [b:The Catcher in the Rye|5107|The Catcher in the Rye|J.D. Salinger||3036731], [b:Hairstyles of the Damned|22539|Hairstyles of the Damned|Joe Meno||2311963], and this one. I'm not sure what differentiates these books from other coming of age stories – I read a fuckload of YA, and 90% of those are coming of age stories. It has something to do with the “I'm so gifted and weird and punk and cannot communicate with other people so I'm not going to try,” stream of consciousness. At least I think that's it. Believe me, I was a weirdo in high school. I was the wallflower that saw everything and only rarely spoke of it. I read everything I could get my hands on. But for some reason these books don't resonate, even a little bit. They read like bullshit or pretentious fantasy to me. I don't understand what is so special about those novels. Maybe I'm just too old for this kind of coming of age story, and when I was the right age, I was too busy coming of age myself, to appreciate them.

What I Disliked About This Book
No fifteen year old boy talks like this, even in writing. The writing style is that of a seven year old boy. I think it would have done better if the narrator were in 7th grade, and his friends were all going away to high school at the end of the novel. A middle school student with that level of writing skill is far more believable.

Even with a learning disability, some form of autism, a trauma, etc. I felt he was too much a weird mishmosh of youth and self-awareness. Children with autism and learning disabilities think differently, not just younger - it's why I find the brain of those with autism and various other quirks so fascinating.

His ignorance of sex is monumentally ridiculous. Just because he's gone through a lot and may or may not have some sort of mental special need, doesn't mean he'd be that unaware of himself. I worked at a camp for kids with special needs, we had to have 'masturbation stations' for kids that had hit puberty, because what kids do understand is that when they do something that feels good, they should keep doing it.

I had the “twist” ending of the novel figured out in the first 50 pages or so. On top of that, the last 30 pages of a 230 page book were dedicated to spelling out the twist. I feel like I was bashed over the head a few times with a dictionary, in order to get the “twist” to sink in. I thought [b:Life of Pi|4214|Life of Pi|Yann Martel||1392700] bashed me over the head with its ending; this felt way worse.

What My Inner English Major Thinks
Charlie's maturity level, along with his understanding of sex, froze at the age of 7 when his Aunt Helen died in a car accident. He wasn't able to move beyond the screwiness of the first 7 years of his life. That was the first time he was in a mental hospital and his grief and pain froze his maturity level. It makes the style in which this book was written make a lot more sense. It was more of a regression than a disorder.

What I Liked About This Book
There was a reason, no matter how thin, for Charlie's maturity level.

The fact that he read a lot, in order to escape the real world. I was able to relate to this well. I was very good at disappearing into books when I was a kid.

Sam and Patrick. They seemed a lot less cookie-cutter than all of Charlies other friends. There's a formula for the weird kid's friends and most of Charlie's friends sat right on that line.

The drug usage. As weird as it sounds, I really liked the way that Charlie expressed himself when he was high or on LSD – even though it was a bad trip.

Something That Drove Me A Little Crazy
He obviously disliked abbreviations, such as MASH or e.e. Cummings, but for some reason he was constantly abbreviating “girlfriend” to “girlfr.” I liked the touch that he didn't enjoy abbreviations, but the “girlfr” thing made me rage. Charlie didn't strike me as a character that would have liked any kind of textspeak, even his own created textspeak.

Long Story Short
I don't understand what makes this book so special. However, I believe that the movie may be worth seeing. I can see most of my annoyances becoming part of the background when it is on film rather than on paper.

I had a hard time picking a rating for this novel, in the end I went with two stars, but it could have been one or three just as easily.