I’m looking forward to seeing Stephen Chbosky‘s film The Perks of Being a Wallflower, which came out on Friday. After watching the trailer, I was reminded of the book when I first read it years ago as a college freshman. At that point I was able to reflect on my own high school experience, just as Charlie, the shy and unpopular narrator, reveals his freshman year of high school. Charlie balances the feeling of belonging, while also feeling like an outsider, “So, this is my life. And I want you to know that I am both happy and sad and I’m still trying to figure out how that could be.” Lines like that made you feel like you were reading a livejournal that you stumbled upon in the 90s.
Charlie’s insights made him the Holden Caulfield of my generation and I’ll always remember the description of him driving in a car, listening to a song on a mixtape, and “feeling infinite.” I think what the book got right is its sense of truth; growing up in the suburbs and trying to find yourself over the din of car radios, suburban shopping malls, and school pep rallies. Unlike some depictions of kids as hyper articulate mini-adults, or stories of adults rewriting their childhood experiences through mature eyes, The Perks of Being a Wallflower captured the awkward adolescence I remembered perfectly. With the author, Chbosky, also directing the movie, the film is sure to capture that same feeling of shy, budding youth.