We all are, or have once been wallflowers. The shy creatures of the universe, strangled in a problematic world where everything is so confusing and hard. We have all once swam in those deep waters, where the finish line is the act of growing up, and we all coped with it in different ways. Charlie is struggling with the same things we were, when in high school. The friendships, or lack of them, the crushes, the secret thoughts. The exams, the pressure, the misunderstandings with our parents. Our goals, hopes and dreams, our visions of what we will become.
It is an emotional, but very realistic story, about one kid, and all the things he learns while growing up. By learning things the hard way, by listening, by watching things happen to his friends and family, by just being a wallflower.
The author has written this book in a way where Charlie is writing letters to his secret friend, telling him about his daily adventures. I loved this way, because the letters give a sense of confidentiality, of honesty, or pure thoughts with nothing to hide.
Charlie is a shy guy, who has trouble making friends, socialising, and lacks a lot of common sense. To me, this game me vibes of an autistic kid, or an anxious child suffering from PTSD, which hits all the marks. I don’t know, however, whether or not this was the author’s purpose. It was written in 1998, so I can assume these subjects might have been taboo, as people weren’t as open minded as today.
To me, Charlie was a relatable character. Even though clearly going through a lot more than just a normal kid, in this book, he copes with problems we have all coped. And the part I loved about Charlie the most is – he is honest, so brutally honest, and doesn’t try to hide things he understands or trying to understand. He sees things we don’t tend to see, and he feels things in a way I would want to feel them.
“So, this is my life. And I want you to know that I am both happy and sad and I’m still trying to figure out how that could be.”
He suddenly meets a group of friends, that accept him as he is. And he can be as weird and crazy as he wants, no one bothers. These friendships – my dear reader – are something we all wish for, and some of us are so lucky to have them.
I truly believe that this book is definitely something I would give to my kid to read, or to my small siblings. I wish I had read this 10 years ago, when I would relate more, and when all the high-school topics were relevant. But even now, I can still remember the exact way Charlie felt in some situations. I wish I had read the book and acted differently on some of mine.
”Charlie, we accept the love we think we deserve.”
Charlie will teach us a lot about high school little traumas, high-school crushes and true love, friendships and betrayals, seeing the family in a different way, and acting on things instead of doing nothing. With Charlie, I went back to high-school, and remembered all the good things and the bad. I ALMOST shed a few tears for all the memories and times I will never have. Now, I raise a glass, and say cheers for all the good memories and friendships made.
“And I thought about how many people have loved those songs. And how many people got through a lot of bad times because of those songs. How many people enjoyed good times with those songs. And how much those songs really mean. I think it would be great to have written one of those songs. And I bet if I wrote one of them, I would be very proud. I hope the people who wrote those songs are happy. I hope they feel it’s enough. And I really do because they’ve made me happy. And I’m only one person.”
Spend a little time, and pick up this book. It is a short and sweet read, and it is a book that everyone should have on their shelves.