I had such high expectations of this book. You can’t scroll through Tumblr without seeing quotes from the book against pretty backgrounds, the film adaption was very good and so many of my generation claim it as THE book of their teenage years.
For a reason that I have not put my finger on yet, I just couldn’t gel with this book. In all honestly, it felt like I was forcing myself to finish it for most of it. Maybe this was because I have seen (and very much enjoyed) the film adaption so I knew how the story was going to play out, however I have read books after seeing the film before now and they have still managed to install suspense in the story in a way that Perks just didn’t.
There is no denying that the book is fabulously written for the most of it. I can understand why people adore the quotes that they do, because at times they perfectly sum up the “nobody understands me” feeling that is being a teenager. However, while I can appreciate the writing I personally could not get on with the letter style of the book. It just didn’t gel with me and I prefer seeing the whole picture, or as much of it as possible. And although it is part of Charlie's characterisation, his detached narration of the story unfolding was… not great.
I read many reviews of this book before writing my own, trying to figure out why I didn’t like it so much. A few of the reviews made the point that this book throws SO much in to the mix – suicide, death, rape, anxiety and depression, social exclusion, domestic violence, abortion, drugs, child molestation… there’s a lot going on. And no one thing is really dealt with in a conclusive way. Those issues deserve time and respect, not to be passed over as just part of life, as part of Charlie’s life – the boy that so many people identify with.
Ultimately though, I think if I read it when I was a teenager it would have become my bible, like so many of my peers. I can’t help but think that it probably would have meant the world to me and I would scrawl that that love quote everywhere. But at this time of my life it just didn’t resonate in that way. I gave it a solid 3/5 stars on Goodreads, but I think I’ll stick to re-watching the film.
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