- This had been on my TBR list forever.
- I choose to believe Chbosky is a writing genius.
Ok guys. I wanted to love-love this book, like 5 or even 6 spades love, but I couldn’t because while this was a good read, it didn’t offer me anything new I hadn’t read before (and maybe I am too dense and that was the point, who knows). Written from the view of our protagonist Charlie, which I couldn’t figure out was a girl or a boy for the longest time, who writes letters to a stranger, the story guides us through Charlie’s first year in high school. As expected there are new and old friends, first loves, drugs, sexual experimentation, fights, adventures, and lessons learned. After all it is our typical coming-of-age story.
Now, Charlie has an aspiration to write. And here is where I choose to believe Chbosky’s stroke of genius. The protagonist’s letters start of kinda rough with simple sentence phrasings, layman language, and plain thought processes. You can tell he is trying. Throughout the book the letters improve in their writing not just showing us Charlie’s own growth as a person but also his development as a young writer. All of this was particularly encouraged by his English teacher, who challenges him to read select books and submit reports forging a bond the shy geeky nerd hadn’t experienced with a grown-up. I find this the most relatable part. Everyone of us either had that teacher that made you feel respected and treated you like a grown-up or everyone at least longed for that teacher.
Throughout his journey through his freshmen year, we learn that Charlie endured two tragic events in his life, the suicide of a classman (which affect him and his friends and their dynamic) and the death of his favorite aunt Helen. This is where the story became really interesting in that us, the readers, discover together with Charlie a deep secret he had been suppressing for many years. Helen had sexually abused him. Helen, his favorite person. Helen, his aunt who always made time for him. Helen, who talked to him like he was an adult. Helen, who seemed to love him so much. This plot twist at the end really caught me off guard and was what made me rate this book with 4 spades. That, and my believe that Chbosky is a genius by letting his protagonist improve his letters throughout his writing progress.
With that said, this is an American staple and everyone should read it. I am glad I did.