The Perks of Being a Wallflower

July 15, 2008

by Stephen Chbosky.

Here’s how the novel starts. If such a beginning can leave you indifferent, you’re very unlike me.

August 25, 1991
Dear friend,
I am writing to you because she said you listen and understand and didn’t try to sleep with that person at that party even though you could have. Please don’t try to figure out who she is because then you might figure out who I am, and I really don’t want you to do that. I will call people by different names or generic names because I don’t want you to find me. I didn’t enclose a return address for the same reason. I mean nothing bad by this. Honest.
I just need to know that someone out there listens and understands and doesn’t try to sleep with people even if they could have. I need to know that these people exist.

Charlie is a high school freshman caught between the colliding forces of inner turmoil and outside influences. The novel tells the story of a year in his life, in the form of letters to an anonymous friend. While it was difficult, at times, to believe that such deep thoughts could have originated from a 15-year-old, that didn’t stop me from feeling and relating with the character.

One could say the novel is a testimony of the friction between two desires: to embrace life, and to run away from life. But it is discussing a lot more than that. Since I have not grown up in an American high school environment, I cannot think of this in terms of “realistic” or “non-realistic”, but it certainly opens a clear and honest window into the world of a teenager.

I find it very lucky, if not downright miraculous, that Charlie manages to find a mentor (Bill, his English teacher) and friends (Patrick and Sam), who are older than him. Bill tells him to participate and stop using thought to remove himself from life. V fubhyq yrnea fbzrguvat sebz gung…

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Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac

May 30, 2008

by Gabrielle Zevin.

After the great first few sentences, I honestly expected more from this book. I liked how it was split into three parts (I was, I am, I will). But there is not much in there besides this. The ‘why’ behind many parts of the story is unclear, in fact ‘luck’ has more to do with it than I would have liked. The novel is an artificial and didactic (which I hate) story about putting ones past behind and becoming a better person. It also contains a bunch of references to movies and music, which perhaps I’d look up if I liked the story more.

Some quotes:

  • […] listen for the pauses when you want to know if someone’s hiding something.
    2/44:45
  • I was worried that you had gotten a bit, well, cynical […]. I wanted to remind you about romance. It was probably a stupid notion — a sixteen-year-old who’s not an expert on romance ought to be brought to a lab and dissected.
    3/16:45
  • Ask two people to tell you anything, you’ll get two versions.
    3/17:55
  • Screw the past.
    4/14:00
  • I think it’s in somewhat bad taste to give an amnesiac a blank book.
    4/23:40
  • It’s when you don’t need something that you tend to lose it.
    5/43:15
  • But the good thing about art is that no one necessarily knows what you mean by it anyway.
    6/11:10
  • They should tell you when you’re born: have a suitcase heart, be ready to travel.
    6/52:15