For some reason, I've read several young adult books lately. I don't tend to read much YA lit, despite my obsessions with Harry Potter and The Hunger Games. But, I enjoyed The Future of Us and have gotten quite a few recommendations for good YA books recently, and it is nice to just speed through a book now and then.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower actually came out while I was in high school, but I thought I was way too cool to read YA then. I had moved on to adult books completely some time in early junior high. It's probably just as well. I don't think I would have appreciated this book back then. I would have been too judgemental of all the characters to get anything out of the story.
This book is one of those books that proves you don't have to like the main character to like the book. Charlie is annoying. Whiny. A crybaby. Passive. Overly sensitive. Emotional. He's not someone I'd want to hang out with. But that's okay. He still has an interesting story to tell. He still matters.
And maybe that's the point of this book - even people who are a bit messed up, or who make mistakes, or who are a little annoying deserve to be known and their lives still matter. Charlie makes several references to "It's a Wonderful Life." He wonders what the story would have been like if it had focused on the drunken uncle. How would they have shown that his life mattered?
I also liked the imagery of Charlie coming out of the Fort Pitt Tunnel. If you've never been to Pittsburgh, I think that would be hard to understand. Pittsburgh isn't know for its beauty - it's known as a steel town, for football and hockey. But the first time I went through that tunnel and arrived on the other side? Wow. It was an amazingly beautiful sight. In most cities you slowly approach the downtown area, driving through blighted areas before the streets start to get better and slowly transform. Going through the tunnel, there's a drastic change. You come out and see the skyline rising above you and the light sparkling off the three rivers. At night time, the buildings are all lit up and twinkling. It was not what I expected, and it's one of the best views I've seen because its so striking. And just like there's more to Pittsburgh than people expect, there's more to Charlie.
Even if you don't read a lot of YA, this is one worth trying, especially before the movie comes out. I think it would be great for a teen who is struggling to find their place. It is worth sticking with it - I wasn't enjoying it for the first 30 or so pages and had to overlook some annoyances about Charlie, but overall it's a good read.