Charlie is a freshman. And while he's not the biggest geek in the school, he is by no means popular. Shy, introspective, intelligent beyond his years yet socially awkward, he is a wallflower, caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it.
Charlie is attempting to navigate his way through uncharted territory: the world of first dates and mix tapes, family dramas and new friends; the world of sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, when all one requires is that perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite. But he can't stay on the sideline forever. Standing on the fringes of life offers a unique perspective. But there comes a time to see what it looks like from the dance floor. [ synopsis from goodreads ]
Let's talk about nostalgia for a second.
This book has always held a special place in my heart. The first summer that one of my best friends came to visit, she told me about this book. But we were in a crowded store and I didn't hear her. "What are we looking for?" I asked. "The Perks of Being a Waffle Iron? Why would anyone want to be a waffle iron?"
We probably laughed about my mistake the whole way home.
But, because of it, I never forgot about this book. I read it, finally, later in the year. I looked back at my original goodreads review and it says I finished this for the first time on September 18, 2010. Now, almost four years later, I've read it again. And it still holds the same special place in my heart.
The thing about this book is that everyone talks about it and about how much they love it and how good it is and how much it will change your life. But this book won't mean the same to everyone. I think I loved it more because I was in much the same place in my life as those found in the book. By the end, Sam and Patrick are graduating and moving on with their lives. Charlie is left alone. I could relate to all of them.
Because of that, I remember devouring this book; swallowing it whole and letting its words wash over me. And then I bought it. And I read it again. And I still had that same feeling.
I loved this book then because I could relate. I love this book still because each time I read it, it feels like going home. I can remember what it felt like to read it the first time and what it meant to me then and what it still means to me now.
What's so great about this book is that it tackles real problems that we do face. And it takes place in 1991. So while some things have changed, the problems that Charlie and his friends face are all still the same. It can almost feel like you're reading about your own life, seen through someone else's eyes.
The time gap, though, that's what got me. I think it took me until this reading to realize that the mixtape Charlie made for Patrick was an actual mixtape. On a cassette. ... I don't think I paid attention to the dates the 238489324 times I read this book before now. But I do remember wondering how Charlie made a two sided cd for Patrick.
I don't know why I told you that.
Anyway, back to my point. I think this book really does mean different things to different people. I think it also depends on where you are in your life when you read it. If you read it as an adult, it's probably not going to mean the same thing to you and you're probably not going to see it in the same way as it would if you read it as a teenager. It can't. You're not at the same stage in your life.
So please. Don't go into this book expecting it to change your life. If you do, it probably won't. Go into this expecting to experience a good story. And if you read it with that state of mind, it will have the chance to work its magic all on its own.
I know, for me, I had one expectation going into it: that the story would not involve waffle irons. And when I came out on the other side, I understood why.
"So, I guess we are who we are for alot of reasons. And maybe we'll never know most of them. But even if we don't have the power to choose where we come from, we can still choose where we go from there. We can still do things. And we can try to feel okay about them."