Best things in life: books, beaches, cats, chocolate, sunsets, sleep
Ugh!! I don’t get why this book is so highly rated. It is a boring and tedious recitation of a teenager’s life over the course of about a year. Charlie’s story is told through a series of letters he writes to an anonymous person. The recipient of the letters is not named and Charlie says in the first letter that he will give the people in his letters generic names to keep his own identity a secret. The recipient has never met Charlie and is not provided a return address, so I'm not sure if that would even be an issue. I found the letter technique annoying because it just as easily could have been a diary. Charlie addresses this issue in the end and says that letters imply communion and a diary can be found. Well there is no communion since the letters are all from Charlie. Without letters from the recipient, it is entirely one-sided.
Charlie is fifteen at the beginning of the story and just about to begin his freshman year in high school. He only seems to have had two friends before this story begins, and one has just committed suicide and the other seems to have outgrown Charlie in maturity. So Charlie begins the school year friendless. He is very socially awkward and pretty much clueless about how other people his age act which doesn’t bode well for making new friends. Yet strangely enough he does, and they are seniors. From what I know about typical teenagers, seniors and freshman rarely become good friends, so I found this to be rather unlikely. But Charlie is actually a year older than most freshmen due to being kept out of school for a year many years earlier, so I’ll allow that this friendship might actually happen given the two year age difference. Many typical things happen in Charlie’s life over the course of this year: he gets his driver’s license, first kiss, first date, first this, that and the other. Many disturbing issues also come up like rape, homophobia, bullying, drug use and so on, but none are addressed in any depth.
Sounds not too bad, right? A story about a teenage boy with lots of pertinent social issues. But it is really pathetically boring. Charlie’s life is like many real-life teenagers meaning that the high points in his life are so awesome to him and the lows are devastating. He falls in love , gets high and does many other teenage things. And he cries --a lot, and that is one of the reasons he goes to a therapist and takes medication. And ultimately the reader and Charlie discover the reason for his frequent crying. Still I just didn’t feel Charlie’s anguish. I didn’t feel much of anything at all. This might be the YA novel that makes me decide not to read any more YA books, at least for quite a while. I have concluded before that YA books have so much angst that it gets on my nerves. In this story, the angst didn’t seem genuine; it felt flat or something. Charlie is too emotionally detached. And yes, I know why he is detached because I read to the end, but still.... I was disappointed because I just expected more.