Perks offers peek into teen trauma

Imani Whyte, Staff Writer

Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky is a devastatingly moving book. It’s a novel that you can devour in one sitting. Chbosky manages to simultaneously fill you up and leave you empty.

The book, a coming-of-age novel, centers around a sensitive and introverted teenage boy, Charlie, who is anxious about starting high school after the recent death of his friend. Charlie is eventually taken under the wing by a few seniors and his English teacher, and he builds unbreakable bonds with them. This epistolary novel is able to be deeply personal, even though there is so much that we don’t know. Charlie speaks to us as if we are his long-lost friends, even though we are strangers. The casual tone emphasizes the intimacy of the novel and makes you feel like you are more connected to the characters.

The book was frequently banned and challenged because it covers sensitive topics, such as rape, domestic violence, sex, abuse, and drug use, so it might not be something that everyone can handle. Nevertheless, it is a story that should not be erased. Charlie deals with complex friendships and high school relationships on top of his own issues, and he copes with it all by using drugs.

One word to describe this book is sonder. Sonder is the realization that everyone is leading their own lives and has their own experiences. This is exactly what happens in Perks of Being a Wallflower. Everyone has a backstory, an issue, a traumatic event, or experience that defines them. Charlie is deeply aware of this and is determined to make sure that no one has to manage their problems alone. He is willing to do almost anything to make everyone feel better, often ignoring his issues in the process. While the book is reminiscent of Catcher in the Rye, probably the most famous coming of age novel in American literature, it can stand on its own as a prestigious addition to the coming of age genre. It is witty and heartbreaking and humorous and depressing. It manages to break your heart and put it back together over and over again.