Confession Friday: The Perks of Being A Wallflower and Katie's Teen Angst

September 14, 2012 Coming of Age, Young Adult Fiction 19

Confession Friday: I was an angsty teenager. That’s not much of a confession. But I used to dress like this:

Photo of me and some friends in high school. Tragically hip.

I went through what I like to call my “grunge phase” in high school. What can I say? I was a socially awkward girl in the late 90s, and it was perfectly acceptable to hide one’s perceived imperfections underneath layers of enormously baggy pants and giant t-shirts. It wasn’t EXACTLY the age of Nirvana, but you know, trends hit the suburbs a few years late.

Anyway, being a teenager and tending toward the angst ridden, you may understand why I list The Perks of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky among my favorite books of all time. It was given to me by my friend Kim (the girl conveniently hiding half her face in what she must have known would someday be an embarrassing photo) and I’ve loved it ever since. It’s one of the few books I’ve read more than once. It’s the ultimate teen misfit tome- it was published by MTV, for heaven’s sake!

This book was hipster before hipsters were ironic. Or something. I don’t “get” the hipster thing. I HAVE mentioned that I’m uncool, right?

Our protagonist is Charlie, and he is a freshman in high school. He’s brilliant, but awkward. Two seniors take him under their wing and introduce him to all that high school has to offer angst ridden teenagers (sex, drugs, and rock and roll, obviously.) Charlie’s English teacher also takes a particular interest in him and supplies him with a series of novels that shape his world view. This book was billed as a modern day Catcher In The Rye and it lives up to this when Charlie breaks down and is admitted to a mental hospital at the end. It’s not all bad news though- Charlie seems to be making a steady recovery and we leave him hopeful for the coming school year.

I’m not sure if I would love this book so much if I were to read it today without having my nostalgic connection to it. I mean, it’s good, but I think what makes it so special to me is the time it invokes. Despite all my brooding, I too had moments of feeling “infinite.” Picking up this book is like listening to Nirvana’s “Unplugged in New York” for me- it takes me right back to that point in time (in the case of that album, it takes me to my BFF’s bedroom above the garage of her parents’ new house in Maryland. We haven’t lived in the same state since we were 14, but we are so awesome that it doesn’t matter.)

The Perks of Being a Wallflower has been made into a movie that is due to be released later this year. I hear Emma Watson is playing a starring role (is there anything Hermione CAN’T do?!) Obviously, as it has not yet been released I can’t review the movie, but I’m going to go ahead and say that the book is better. Even with Emma Watson (although I am VERY curious to hear your American accent, Emma dear.)

Bookworms, do you have a nostalgia book? What did you love during your awkward teen years?

19 Responses to “Confession Friday: The Perks of Being A Wallflower and Katie's Teen Angst”

  1. Lyssapants

    I keep a book list of basically every book I have ever read, no joke.
    It’s organized by year.
    I don’t have it with me but I am trying to think about which ones are on it for my high school years……
    I think the most angsty one I liked for that period of time was The Bell Jar.
    Oh! and Les Miserables (the abridged version).

  2. Lyssapants

    and I *just* saw your blogroll to the side there. THANK YOU!!!
    and I apologize if it’s been up forever and my tunnel vision has just now cleared up….

  3. Pants Pie

    Since I’m in this picture I have to comment. 😉 Kim gave me this book to read as well, along with the Bean Trees which to this day is one of my faves.
    And btw, we were awesome in high school. Just sayin.

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