Sunday, March 24

The Perks of Branching Out a Bit

It may be a generalisation, but Young Adult fiction is a genre notorious for being pitifully-written and very low in literary value, consisting mainly of romances between teenaged girls and vampires.  Now, that sort of thing does have a time and a place, and, of course, a huge female following, but I've always avoided it.  The little that I was exposed to prejudiced me against the genre as a whole.  

But there's more to it than that.  It has been a great experience to branch out from my narrow-minded stereotype to explore a different side to Young Adult fiction - a very memorable experience indeed.


The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky has found fame as a coming-of-age classic in the universe of Young Adult fiction.  

Picture retrieved from
In the past year, I have heard this title mentioned dozens of time.  I never thought anything of it.  To me, it was just another teen bestseller - something to be raved about by a devoted young fan-base for a few months before fading into the background.  

I didn't give it much thought until one of my best friends recommended it to me - a fellow lover of classics and good literature recommending me a book that I had deemed to be a passing fad.  

That was enough.  I ordered it through the library and was immediately added to a wait-list of 97 people.  It took close to four months for a copy to arrive, but once I finally borrowed it, I started reading straight away.  

I devoured the first three quarters in one sitting.  It was inexplicably gripping.  


Budding writer, Charlie, is starting his first year of high school.  Being very quiet yet observant, Charlie eventually makes two close friends in senior student, Patrick and his step-sister, Sam.  The story covers the events of his first year, told through a series of Charlie's letters, chronicling his initiation into a world of sex, drugs, friendship, and love.  Not only does Charlie need to make sense of the strange and painful workings of life around him, but he is forced to search for his true identity, and his place within this life.  


This book is instantly relatable.  I'm positive that every teenager who reads this book will immediately claim it as their own - a reflection of their secret feelings and observations.  And because of that, I feel that no review could do justice to it - it is too primally personal to describe to a stranger.  

The whole book feels like one long quote.  I don't mean that it's sentimental and cliched.  What I mean by that is it feels like every sentence relates to your life, and you want to be able to remember every little bit for later, so you can quote it when you need to.  Probably the only remedy is to buy a copy and read it over and over, easily done, as it's short and seems to end too quickly.  Alas, life waits for nobody, as the book itself explains.  

But something I especially treasured is the fact that while you're reading it, you experience the exact feeling that the book is based upon - infinity.  That feeling that 'now' is perfect.  Time should stop.  This moment should last forever because right here everything makes sense.  While reading, everything felt so true and real and honest, and I was swept up in a windy, electrical, midnight sensation of infinity. 

If nothing else, this book allows for self-reflection by posing questions and giving words to use as you search through yourself for answers.  

I would love to come back and read this again.  It already feels like a lifetime since I finished it, even though it was only a day ago.  It is a perfect moment that I never wanted to end.  

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