My fifteen year old daughter adores this book. She made me read it and I don’t regret it. I only wish I had found it much earlier in my life. My fifteen year old self would’ve probably adored it too. The adult version of me wanted just a little something more.
I probably spoiled this story for myself by seeing the movie first. I knew the big reveal before I ever read a word and that is a crying shame. For some reason, the movie moved me more than the book and I feel that this was due in part to the one sided narration and probably in part to my general black-heartedness. This book is written by Charlie in a series of letters addressed only to a “Dear Friend”. This format didn’t entirely work for me because everyone else became a peripheral character that I never became all that emotionally invested in. They popped into scenes but never truly came to life in the way that Charlie does or, dare I say, the way they did in the movie. Especially Patrick and Sam. Those kids, including the actor who plays Charlie, were amazing in their roles. Read the book first and then see the movie if you missed it during its theatrical run. It is truly something special. Even the trailer has the ability to make me go all weepy.
Now about the book.
Charlie is starting his freshman year of high school with no friends but he has a family who loves him. He’s overly sensitive, intelligent, sweet and nursing the pain of losing his best childhood friend to suicide. He is awkward and a wallflower and when a teacher he admires tells him that he needs to participate in life he tries his best to take that advice to heart. He is befriended by Patrick, an older outgoing boy, and his beautiful step-sister Sam whom Charlie secretly loves but she’s dating a guy who is all wrong for her. They all have their issues and make mistakes as they’re finding themselves. Just like most teenagers. It all felt very real, with a note of sadness looming overhead, and I can completely understand why it is so beloved by many. Still, it didn’t floor me emotionally the way I thought it might because of the way the story was told. I was hoping for an unforgettable five star read but this didn’t quite get there.