…by Stephen Chbosky.
15 year old Charlie is nervous about starting high school. While he isn’t the biggest geek at school, he is still socially awkward. Besides which, Charlie is also shy, introspective and extremely intelligent particularly in English. He manages to make friends with a couple of seniors — Sam and Patrick. Sam and Patrick are step-sister and step-brother and they take Charlie under their wing. Charlie also thinks Sam is the most beautiful girl he has ever seen. But Sam only likes him as a friend. Charlie deals with what most teenagers have to deal with: family problems, new friends, relationships, sexuality, drugs and mental health problems. It all culminates to a point where Charlie can no longer just observe from the sidelines but has to face what life has thrown.
This is a very sweetly written book. It is written from Charlie’s point of view in the form of letters to a ‘Friend’. And it’s beautiful. Filled with innocence and yet quite deep and painful, his voice tugs at your heartstrings. Right from the first chapter where he writes about the suicide of his friend from middle school to his love for Sam and friendship with her and Patrick and the rest, to his struggle with anxiety and depression and finally the climax, he is just lovely. Your heart goes out to him. I also loved the characters of Patrick and Sam. The former deals with his secret same-sex relationship while the latter seems to choose the wrong boys. For me personally, given that I work with this age group and love working with them, the characters all reminded me of my clients. Trying to find their identities, trying to fit in, trying to deal with the pressures of adolescence — they are all wonderfully portrayed. It’s a very quick and easy read.
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Until next time,