This book follows the protagonist Charlie as he starts high school through a series of letters written from Charlie to an anonymous person. Charlie has struggled with mental illnesses most of his life and there is a lot of emphasis on his struggle with remaining heathy throughout his freshman year of high school. He meets new friends who he loves very much, and the story follows the development of their relationships.
I just recently reread this book and forgot how much I loved it and how hard it is to read. It is a fantastic book. It is poignant but also happy, which is a main theme through the book (“I am both happy and sad and I’m still trying to figure out how that could be”). It is definitely hard to read because it deals with a lot of tough subjects. There’s a rape scene, an abortion scene, several drug scenes, domestic abuse. So just be aware and don’t be fooled by the simple language. The language used by Chbosky is very simple but manages to capture feeling and emotion.
Chbosky does such a good job of capturing Charlie’s feelings. I can always imagine myself in his situation. I know what he’s feeling and I can pictured everything perfectly. That’s a really tough thing to do without being cheesy and I think Chbosky does it really well.
I also think it does a great job portraying mental illness. It is not over done or hollywood-ized. It is pretty accurate and manages to put mental illness in a good light. Not that it glamorizes mental illness, but it makes it okay to have a mental illness. Charlie is still loved by his family even though he has a lot of issues. His friends accept his quirks and don’t ridicule him. At the end when he is really ill, his friends are all really supportive and visit him and help them as much as they can.
All in all, I love this book. I would recommend it for older readers, maybe 15-18 ish, just because of the issues it addresses. But the movie is also really good, and I think everyone should watch it after they read the book. It does a really good job following the book.
Let me know your thoughts!