This book is a series of letters written to an unknown friend by Charlie – a quiet young man who lives mostly in his head. These letters span about a year from the start of his freshman year in high school, as Charlie starts to learn how to "participate" in life instead of watching. He makes friends with some seniors who take him under their wing and seem to be understanding about his innocence. Charlie is a very unusual character – quiet, observant and thinks a lot about what he sees, seemingly highly sensitive and prone to crying, and unsure about how to interact with people comfortably. He seems very intelligent and yet strange. I had a feeling like.. something is up here, something I don't know, so I had to keep reading not only to find out about his high school experiences (which were hilarious, sad, crazy, unexpected and wonderful all wrapped up in one), but also to figure him out. I really had a good time reading this book – Charlie feels like a sweet kid everyone knows and is fond of, and I just zipped through this, and I want to go back and revisit.
I think this is a good book to read if you ever felt like a wallflower yourself (probably most people at some point). It had me thinking about the things you think about when you are growing up and figuring people out – watching others and daydreaming and imagining what other people think or see (everyone does this, right?). I think one of the only problems I would say I had with this book is I'm not sure I believe so many people could be that patient and understanding about Charlie and willing to bring him into their group of friends, but it WAS a small group of people who were on the fringes anyway so perhaps I'm being too picky here. The other thing was – ok some of the things that happened made me squint in disbelief - ALL that madness happened in ONE YEAR?! I'm just dying to say something that's a spoiler so I'm just going to comment that in my post on vox and if you want to find out, go there.
9.5 outta 10
ok the spoiler is about the ending…. don't read if you haven't read it. going to be vague, but still:
several people were surprised by the ending but I was not. I KNEW there was something up with him! In fact it bothered me that it ended with the revelation that it did because I didn't want there to be a reason why Charlie was so odd. But maybe not, because Charlie says "I guess we are who we are for a lot of reasons. And maybe we'll never know most of them. But even if we don't have the power to choose where we come from, we can still choose where we go from there."