Letters About Literature

Dear Stephen Chbosky,

Ever since I was young, reading has been an important part of my life. My parents and I would read together every night, and as I grew older I became an avid reader on my own. I remember staying up late and reading until the words became blurry to my eyes all the while cowering under the dim light of my lamp so as not to reveal to my parents that I was still awake. However, when high school began, I became extremely busy. Whether I was doing homework, fooling around with my best friend or spending time with my family, I found myself too engrossed in my own life to get lost in a book. I gave up my passion for reading; an activity that had once brought me immense joy. Reading in high school meant writing a book report or analyzing literary devices, and that took the fun out of a process that had been second nature since my youth.

One summer day before my sophomore year of high school, my mom went shopping and dragged me along with her. Bored, I wandered into a Barnes and Noble – one of my favorite places. I noticed the lime green cover of your book, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and picked it up for further inspection. My mom came back as if on cue, and brought the book to the checkout (she was getting desperate to have me reading again). I, reluctantly, started reading the next afternoon – and didn’t stop until I had finished the book in the early hours of the next morning. I found myself lost within the story; my heart broke as Charlie was put through tough scenarios and I found myself smiling at all of his accomplishments. Never had I met a character so similar to me. I knew what being purely terrified of high school was like, I knew what having hardly any friends felt like, I knew nearly every emotion that ran through Charlie’s head.

One of the few feelings that Charlie had felt that I hadn’t, was the feeling of having a small group of loyal friends. I had my best friend, but besides that, I didn’t really hang out with many people outside of school. I wanted the group dynamic that Charlie had. I wanted the parties and the feeling of having support from multiple people. The issue was, I was shy, and I had a hard time opening up to people, like really opening up. This isn’t to say I didn’t have lots of friends, it just meant I didn’t have people I’d go to if I had a bad day and needed to talk about it. After seeing how Charlie benefited from his friend group, I gained a new found courage to rekindle old friendships and spark new, deeper ones. By the end of my sophomore year, I had many close friends that I loved to spend time with.

I returned to The Perks of Being a Wallflower in the middle of the summer after my sophomore year had ended. I had what I had strove so desperately for, but I still didn’t feel complete. This time reading the book, I noticed that Charlie was genuinely content when he was with his friends or his family, and many of his struggles came when he was left alone. I noticed that same pattern in my life, too. Somehow, though, I always felt comforted knowing that Charlie had gotten through the rough patches and made it out the other end. I felt that if he could manage to do that, so could I.

Thus, I’d like to sincerely thank you for giving me such a wonderful, lifelike character like Charlie. Thank you for helping me get through some of my hardest days. Thank you for giving me the motivation to seek out what I wanted in life. Thank you for giving me this timeless novel that I’ll continue to read whenever I feel I need to.

Deeply,

Renee

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