When I was a young teenager around 13 or 14, I remember finding out online about a cult American book called ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’. I picked it up on Amazon and devoured it in a day. Last weekend, I finally got round to watching the film on DVD.
Quickly Google the title along with novel and film, and you’ll find dozens of posts dedicated to comparing the two – what did the film miss out, which intricacies are just impossible to convey on the big screen? The endless lists remind me of Harry Potter – Rowling spent years creating this epic world, but how on earth could this be faithfully displayed in just 2 hours of film? Normally, I feel the same about films: I’m the pedantic, irritating reader who always reminds people it was a book first. I have scoffed having seen some of my favourites, immediately sold (binned would be a bit extreme, I’m a student, come on) The Time Traveller’s Wife, was unimpressed with countless more.
For me though, the real ‘perks’ in the book come with the fact that it provides a ‘feeling’, rather than a difficult-to-screen plot. The book struck a chord with me when I was younger like many other teenagers, because the book itself is a bildungsroman. But even now as my teenage years have ended, I still felt the uplifting feeling that I adored on my reading. The book is now set over twenty years ago, yet the slightly outdated fashions on screen did nothing to remove the relevance of the book even today. And something inside me still rejoices when I hear that line: ‘we accept the love we think we deserve’.
The novel itself reminds me somewhat of ‘The Catcher in The Rye’, which is often cited as being different depending on what time of your life you are at when you read it. I still remember the quotes from ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’, and I still feel that childish satisfaction when you can pre-empt what a character is about to say, knowing it’s going to be your favourite line. There’s something delightfully simple about pleasures like this. And to end, here are a couple of my favourite representations of quotes from the book: