Despite this book being around for ages, this was my first time reading it. At first, I was slightly wary: The idea of a novel written entirely in letters to an anonymous recipient was a bit daunting. However, I found that it was extremely easy to follow – without being condescending to its readers – and, at times, I found myself forgetting that I was reading letters.
Charlie, the main character, is very likeable. He’s the kind of character whose innocence forces you to constantly remind yourself how old he is. The novel tells the story of Charlie’s high school experience through a series of letters written by Charlie, to an individual known only as ‘friend’. At times, it’s almost comical how naive Charlie is as he learns to deal with puberty, girls, and sex. Other times, I found myself empathising as Charlie and other characters contend with mental health, depression, loneliness, abuse, drugs, death, suicide, and other major issues.
The recipient of Charlie’s letters really intrigued me, perhaps more than any other character, because we know nothing about them. Not their name, their relation to Charlie, their replies to Charlie’s letters, not even if they’re a boy or a girl. More than once, I found myself wondering what they thought of Charlie, if they found some of his letters as funny or as sad or as shocking as I did, what they might have said in response to make Charlie feel better … if they were even reading all of his letters?
What I liked most about this novel, I think, was the way it makes you look at the world. I’m always a sucker for things that force you to look at things differently, and this book does an excellent job of it. It makes you think, and that’s a great quality in anything, in my opinion.
For me, the funniest parts were due to sheer out-datedness: Charlie smoking in his teacher’s office, Patrick going out to get stoned with his guidance councellor, etc.
All in all, this was an incredible read, and I wouldn’t hesitate to read through it again. There have been rumours of a movie based on Chbosky’s novel, and I really hope they’re true, because that would be awesome. I most DEFINITELY recommend it, if you haven’t read it before. And OH MAN the ending! But I’ll leave that up to you to find out.
“We accept the love we think we deserve.”