Funnily enough, this book was referenced in my friend’s Goodreads review of the hugely disappointing Tell The Wolves I’m Home. He mentioned it as an example of how a teen voice transcended its limitations to really SAY something. Well he was right about that.
I think everyone has read this book by now, haven’t they? And if they haven’t, then surely they’ve seen the film. So everyone knows it’s an epistolary novel, with sixteen year old Charlie writing to an unnamed friend as he tries to navigate a year in high school and all its attendant obstacles without coming apart at the seams. On his journey, he meets Patrick and Sam. Step brother and sister, Charlie falls in love with Sam and idolises Patrick. Patrick is gay and dating a closeted football player, Sam isn’t interested in Charlie that way and is dating a college guy. Charlie falls into their circle of friends and is seemingly having the time of his life. Everyone loves how quiet and intelligent he is. But the letters reveal Charlie is in turmoil and he pours his anguish out for his reader. And us.
I loved this book. I loved all the characters and I especially adored Charlie. Anyone who’s ever been sixteen will find something here that resonates with them, with varying degrees of emotional heart string tugging. And Chbosky has given us a teenage protagonist who is mixed up, messed up and occasionally fucked up, given him a vocabulary that would shame most literary critics and has completely 100% avoided falling into Dawson’s Creek territory. That is a tremendous achievement. I didn’t want the book to end but when it does, the last few lines are so perfect, so heartbreakingly perfect and understated, that I might have got a little bit misty eyed. Wondrous.