Originally posted on my previous blog – this post has been edited for spelling mistakes/clarity
Charlie is starting high school as a freshman – alone. His best and only friend has gone and he is thought weird, geeky and socially awkward by his peers. This is until he is befriended by some seniors who take him under their wing and introduce him to the life of a typical teenager: relationships, love, drugs, alcohol and The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
I have to admit that the first time I read this book, I didn’t actually like it very much and I think to some extent, I didn’t quite understand some of it. However, on my second reading, this book opened up something completely new.
Charlie is an interesting character. The narrative is told entirely from his point of view in the form of letters to an unknown person (there are a few theories who that unknown person is, but I’ll let you make your own judgement). At the start of the novel, we start by knowing nothing and end with knowing not everything…
I loved Chboksy’s writing and his direct approach of writing Charlie’s narrative to match his personality. It is this simplicity that allows the deeper meanings and background story to evolve naturally and so cleverly. Every plot point is subtle and calculated to create a narrative that really comes together at the end.
Charlie is a very likable character and I found myself becoming more and more attached to him. I do see something of myself in him when I was that age – his naivety particularly, not understanding things that he ‘should’ know. Charlie is so sweet also, and a few characters within the novel use this nature which made me like him more. I think anyone would understand Charlie’s experiences as a teenager in growing up throughout the book – the angst, the confusion and developing new emotions. It is this relatable element that I think is important to be able to share those universal experiences of adolescence to new audiences as well as mirroring that teenage confusion through Charlie, who wears it on his sleeve.
The book provides a unique portrayal of teenage life through some excellent characters and wonderful writing. I believe this is an important book to raise awareness of certain diverse issues in adolescence and continues to be a book (and film) that I always enjoy.
I give it a 4 out of 5