Thursday, July 22, 2010

Thursday Treat #22: The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky.

"So this is my life and I want you to know that I am both happy and sad. And I am still trying to figure out how that can be."

Every once in awhile, I stumble across a book that has a profound effect on me. It might be the prose, the characters, or the plot. Or it is none of those things. It is just that moment of finding a book that speaks to me at the right time, that makes everything "click" into place, and finds me in the perfect moment where I understand everything.

Those kinds of books are rare and they leave the reader forever altered by the lesson they taught.

I read Chbosky's novel for the first time as a high schooler. It had been passed around my group of friends and it finally made its way into my own hands at the perfect moment. I had been going through a rough patch and I was struggling with a lot emotionally. But I opened the lime green cover to discover something that forever changed me.

I can't tell you what it was exactly. Charlie's story and his letters to an unknown recipient had nothing in common with my life. He was not like me, and his friends were like no one I knew, but I could see myself in Charlie's voice. As he grew and struggled with who he was, I found meaning in myself and who I wanted to be.

Then there came that moment, when I realized the book WAS indeed speaking to me. I read what is probably the most well-known line of the novel and everything fell into place;

"And in that moment, I swear we were infinite."

It made sense to my high school brain, that infinity and youth went hand in hand. And that while things may be rough and things do not always go according to plan, there is no denying the hope and promise of possibility. It was something I had to remind myself of back then, and on each subsequent reading I have taken that reminder to heart.

I was sitting here, a few moments before I opened the page to write this post, and reflecting on that feeling of hope and possibility. We all have our low moments, and it seems that I am continuing to have mine. After all, it is almost a year since I have started my blog, and I came into this for a few reasons. The main reason I began to write and to read and to learn was that I was searching for purpose in my own life and a direction to go. And now, coming almost full circle to where I was a year ago, I have to wonder if things will ever begin to change? I am still, almost, in the same place I was then, but with so much more behind me.

It was as I was thinking of these things that Chbosky's words came to mind, and that I thought of Charlie and what this book has taught me.

Life can bring you down. It can make you want to tear your hair out in frustration, and sob like a baby. It can also bring you tears of joy, and great feelings of love. There are always friends to lean on, and family to complain to. And no matter how hard it gets, there is always that hope and possibility for something different to come the next day.

There is always that moment when you check yourself and think that you can handle anything, that you can be anything, and you feel infinite.

Pure infinity and drive and the want to accomplish great things.

I may be 8 or 9 years older than I was when I first discovered Charlie and what he meant to me. But as I grow older and remember, and re-read, I am always surprised and how much I still have to learn-from him and the other characters I haven't met yet.

This is a book that has defined me, and altered who I am today. And I cherish it, as much as I cherish my other favorites, in a way that I don't think anyone else can quite comprehend.

For those of us who are readers, some books just become a part of us and while we try to explain their meaning to others, sometimes we just want to hold that part of us closer and never let go.

Other times we gush and rave and implore those around us to take hold of the wonder we found in those pages. We just want to pass it on and won't stop at any means until the listener agrees to read what we have read, and to love what we have loved. I suppose you can consider this post my gushing plea to go and pick this up if this at all moved you. It was inspired by a story that has become a part of me, and I so want it to become a part of you as well.


  1. Awesome post! I read this one quite awhile ago. I should read it again soon.

  2. I need to read this. I have wanted to, for so long. I will, because of this post. Thank you.

  3. I read this book just this past semester for a project on challenged and banned books. It hit me the same way it hit you - it deeply moved me in a way that I didn't fully comprehend, but loved all the same.

  4. So many have told me that this is a book I need to read. Somehow, in all those years, I never have. You changed that with your post. A copy is under way as we speak.

  5. Wonderful post. I read this in my first semester of college and it just blew me away. It's still one of my favorites and is just begging for a reread.

  6. Ugh, I'm so SCARED to re-read this book! I'm afraid I won't like it as much as I did in high school. To me, this book=cigarettes, too much coffee, driving at night with the windows down and the music blaring. Those are ALWAYS the moments I feel infinite, and think of Charlie.

    Except I don't smoke anymore.


  7. oh, how i missed thursday treats!

    i have wanted to read it since i was finishing secondary school three years ago! i have heard lots of great things of it! i hope i can get it soon!

  8. This is one of those books that I always wanted to read and never had a chance to.

  9. This book is one of my favorites. It got me through a pretty rough patch as well and I swear, it's a book that speaks to you in a way that you wished all books did.

  10. This was a very inspiring and personal post. Thanks for sharing it.