The Perks of Being a Wallflower is rather like The Catcher in the Rye repackaged and presented by Apple marketing. The text is a sensitive and, at times, touching exploration of growing up in an apparently warm 90s-Pittsburgh family. It is a regular world with strange rules, overpowering desires and dominating characters. The descriptions of Charlie experiencing romance, fits of blind anger and debilitating guilt are captivating but perhaps too lightly touched. Indeed, there are challenging issues addressed here: feminism, homosexuality, mental illness and unwanted pregnancy. Yet, at times, it becomes a too-careful handbook for appropriate behaviour. This is where it begins to hollow and recall the anodyne vacuity of Apple adverts. The sense of confusion, anger and a bitterness that hints at despair and troubles the conscience is continually side-stepped. I wonder, as our hero Charlie suggests, if we might not be better off just listening to The Smiths.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Simon & Schuster (2009)