"A quick, easy read. Well written and one that I am re-reading at the moment." Signed by a dear clever friend.
I was gifted this gem of a novel. I will treasure its meaning for years to come. I was entertained while reading it: the characters likeable, the feelings sincere and real. The last day of reading, after I had devoured 90% of the narrative, I had an epiphany.
I try not to use the word epiphany frequently. I save it for the real moment, when something clicks inside and the deep realisation that this smart writer has wrapped in a book, a concept I couldn't express myself.
The book is about the coming of age of a 16 year old. It is the Catcher in the Rye rehashed in a perfect way. I had just finished Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami, a huge fantastic tome about a fifteen year old. I still save the memory of Joey, Franzen's teenage character in Freedom. These books have taught me that most lessons learned, most new feelings occur in those formative years. There is a single reason: the discovery of love in its purest form, because it is the first love. Every experience relates to that period in your life. "We accept the love we think we deserve."
I keep repeating the title "Perks of being a Wallflower" and I consider perks to be one of my favourite words because my understanding of this rather colloquial word is "an advantage you get while you do something that doesn't really seem advantageous".
I had tweeted once, before I even read the book: #perksofgoingtothepublicpool in the signature hashtag tweet lingo that requires word attachment and in reference to the daily, monotonous kilometres I accumulated in the summer: bumping into a Chris Martin lookalike and talking about the smell of lavender. It really is a perk!
I didn't know what a wallflower was till I looked it up: a person who feels shy or awkward or excluded at a party. The protagonist Charlie defines himself as such. Yet, while that was an aspect of his character, the side-effects of that "role" got me thinking and resulted in an epiphany!
There is a lot of communication between the characters of the book. In the last pages, Sam takes Charlie aside and asks him why he has always been passive, why he doesn't assume his feelings, why he doesn't take risk in his actions. Why does he just stand aside and watch. "It's like you're not even there sometimes...you can't just sit there and put everyone's life ahead of yours and think that counts as love. You have to do things."
I realized then how easy it is to just "go for the ride", be there, but not invest your feelings into something completely, in self protection. There are moments in life, opportunities to express and to feel but always the reluctance to let go of the barriers.
Doesn't Cold Play sing, "every step that you take may be your biggest mistake? It may bend or it may break" Why take small shy steps? Why not assume an important step with confidence and take the risk? Why remain a wallflower?