My Favourite… Coming-of-Age Novel

The ‘My Favourite…’ series is a new weekly feature in which I will be putting the spotlight on some of my favourite books of all time! This week, I will be sharing my favourite coming-of-age novel.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Image courtesy of Goodreads.

This is a beautifully perceptive and heart-warming novel. I took a lot of comfort from it during my school years, when the heady social clamour can be menacing for a shy, ill-at-ease and reclusively studious adolescent girl. I connected with Charlie like the ‘dear friend’ he writes to, and he taught me that it was okay to feel like an outsider looking in. ‘You see things, and you understand. You’re a wallflower.’

Seven Reasons Why I Love This Book

1.Characters

Everyone will find a character to relate to in The Perks of Being a Wallflower. They are tantalisingly real – I wanted to step into the pages with them, share their laughter and pain, and have deep conversations in the starlight.

2. Quotes

A number of quotes from this novel have struck a chord with readers. My favourite is from Charlie’s teacher, ‘sometimes people use thought to not participate in life.’

3. Issues tackled

This novel is anything but superficial. It deals with some major issues from homophobia to child abuse. Chbosky sensitively introduces this spectrum of human suffering to readers’ awareness, often at a critical age when they are soon going to be exposed to, and need to understand, these problems.

4. Humour

In complete contrast, the book made me laugh out loud in many places, especially Patrick’s self-deprecating humour. ‘Ladies and gentlemen, I am below average!’

5. Writing letters

Using letters in novels is often seen as an outdated form, but I loved the access that it gave us to Charlie’s poignant and moving thoughts.

6. Relatability

Chbosky captures the triumphs and trials of school years with an intense accuracy that makes his book resonate. You only need to glance online to see that this book has completely captivated a generation.

7. Comfort value

Scrolling through the Goodreads reviews, it appears that The Perks of Being a Wallflower has meant a great deal to a great many people. A novel powerful enough to change the way people feel about themselves is certainly a precious rarity. And to both the hipsters and anti-hipsters: it doesn’t matter whether you read this book before or after it was cool. As long as it meant something to you, that’s what’s important – and in a book with so much heart, there are few readers who could fail to be touched.

If you enjoyed The Perks of Being a Wallflower, you may also like Room by Emma Donoghue.

Do you agree with my choice? What’s your favourite coming-of-age novel? Let me know in the comments!

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