I passed by my Tuesday & Wednesday features this week, on account of the holiday, but I have returned to write a little bit about my most recent reading kick. Lately, I’ve been reading a handful of YA epistolary novels, as I work on my newest, as-yet untitled project. Here’s one I have on my brain right now:
Odds are, you’ve heard of this one. Perks came out in 1999, when I would have been square in the target age for it. However, it fell outside my radar at the time, and I didn’t have occasion to read it until my wife (then-girlfriend) forced it into my hand sometime during the summer of 2006, saying “Read it read it READ IT!”.
It’s easy to see why this book connects with so many young people; it totally nails that torrent of emotions that is teenage existence. I don’t even see it as a drawback that the book is, at a glance, overstuffed with various issues and traumas. It feels just-right as a depiction of what it is to be a teen (or, at least, a teen of some privilege). It nails panic, anxiety, depression — and, luckily, the simple and profound joy to be found in riding through a tunnel alongside your best pals with the radio blaring a killer song.
(For that matter, it also nails my city, Pittsburgh — even if at least one of the landmarks in the book is no more. That might be expected, as the author is a Burgh ex-pat, but as someone who has seen this city gotten wrong in the details more often than right, it’s nonetheless appreciated.)
If you are a teen or can remember being one, I recommend The Perks of Being a Wallflower. You’ll fall for Charlie — you’ll want to hug him and you’ll want to shake him, but you’ll always be right there with him and his well-drawn friends.
PS: The movie is a darn good translation, by the way! If she keeps it up, the gal who plays Sam just might have a bright future.