The book “The Perks of being a Wallflower” by Stephen Chbosky was published in 1999 and was adapted for the big screen in 2011. The writer himself contributed to the movie by doing the script and directing.
First of all, what is it about?
The story takes place in 1991 and starts with Charlie having his first day at highschool. He is a lonely boy so he
decides to write letters (instead of an ordinary diary). He reports about his life, how his only friend committed suicide. We also learn that it was the second time the mentally instable Charlie lost someone close: a few years ago his beloved aunt Helen died in a car accident on his birthday.
Furthermore, Charlie tells about his family: he writes about his brother who is now at college, being a celebrated football player and his sister who treats her boyfriend like shit.
Charlies situation seems to improve when he meets the step-siblings Patrick and Sam. He becomes friends with them and finally falls for Sam. Together with them Charlie makes new experiences, goes to parties and meets new people.
But when a fight separates him from his friends for a few weeks, his condition starts to get worse again.
In his last letter he talks about a stay at a hospital. He remember a suppressed childhood trauma that has to do with his aunt. After his discharge he finally seems to be free of fear and has a hopeful outlook on the future.
Now book vs movie:
After I had heard a lot about this novel, that everybody seems to love, I decided to read this “new american classic” that is supposed to be a new The Catcher in the Rye. Unfortunately I wasn’t to fond of the book. The characters are stereotypes and remain bland throughout the whole story. Stephen Chbosky also didn’t manage to adapt his style of writing to the age of the protagonist Charlie. The whole plot seems quite unrealistic but at the same time very clichéd. There are to many books the cover the same topics with the same stereotyped characters.
The movie on the other hand was really good. The actors make the characters come to life, the get more depth. Especially Emma Watson who was brilliant in the Harry Potter movies plays excellently. By crossing out several scenes, many passages that you already saw in the same way in a thousand other movies were left out. That refreshed the plot and made it seem less frumpy and copied.
In my opinion Steven Chbosky did a much better job with the movie than with the book. In moved pictures he creates more atmosphere than on the paper and the characters are more realistic.
The Perks of being a Wallflower is on of the few books that are overshadowed by the movie concerning quality and depth.