The Perks of Being A Wallflower

The Perks of Being A Wallflower has been on my list to read for quite some time not. I’ve been saying I was gonna read it but haven’t found the time as of late. I’ve only seen the movie, but I can only imagine how much better the book it. In the movie, the year is 1991 and a boy named Charlie has become has just recently started high school. He is recovering from the deaths of his childhood friend Michael and his Aunt Helen that died when he was younger. Charlie befriends two seniors named Patrick and Sam and they integrate him into their friend group, he even starts dating their friend Mary Elizabeth. At a party, Charlie is with his senior friends and he is experimenting with drugs and alcohol. He starts seeing flashbacks of his aunt who died on her way to get him a birthday gift. This leaves Charlie feeling frantic and he ends up in the hospital after passing out. Later, the group has another party celebrating their performance at the school musical. During a game of truth or dare, Charlie is dared to kiss the prettiest girl in the room. He kisses Sam instead of Mary Elizabeth, leaving everyone in the group mad at Charlie and he is told by Patrick that he should leave them be. After losing his friends, Charlie’s visions of Aunt Helen are stronger than ever now that he’s been isolated by his friends. One day at school, Patrick is being beat up by Brad, who he’s been secretly seeing because Brad doesn’t want anyone to know he’s gay. Charlie intervenes and blacks out before beating Brad to a pulp in Patrick’s defense. The group welcomes Charlie back on prom night and Sam and Charlie have sex in a hotel room. This encounter stirs up many emotions for Charlie, especially emotions about his Aunt Helen who he just can’t get out of his head. Sam leaves for college the next day and Charlie begins to mental health spirals downward. He calls his sister in an emotional state, blaming himself for his aunt’s death. Charlie’s sister calls the police and send them to her house. The movie flashes to the hospital where Charlie has now woken up. It is then revealed that Charlie’s aunt sexually abused him when he was a child and that’s why his he keeps seeing visions of her after getting closer to his friends. I’ve watched this movie multiple times and I did not pick up on Charlie’s aunt being a source of trauma for him. The movie was released when I was 11, so maybe that’s why I didn’t understand a topic of such magnitude. Watching recently, however, has made me more aware of how situations like that can lead to negative reactions in your teenage or adult life. Charlie was abused when he was a young child, but he repressed this memories and they began to haunt him as he grew up. I appreciated the mystery in the movie that had me asking “What is going on with his Aunt Helen?” I never thought it was because she sexually abused him which made the story more interesting in my opinion. We have a main character who constantly sees visions of his favorite aunt, but it only happens when he starts feeling love from his friends. This trauma severely impacted Charlie’s life to the point where he couldn’t function sometimes without thinking of her. I believe this movie always brought awareness to how mental health can show up differently in many people. When I was younger, I wasn’t thinking much about sexual abuse, but I also didn’t know anything about repressed memories or blocking out your trauma. This exposed me to a mature subject at a young age, but I don’t regret. I enjoy learning from movies and if they can teach me something then I didn’t waste my time. I’m excited to read the book and see the differences between the two. I’m also excited to see how the author can display the trauma that Charlie was experiencing that year into words. It was easy to see how the trauma was making Charlie feel and act because it’s on a screen in front of me with great actors. However, reading the words on a page are gonna be much different from seeing the action, so I’d love to see how it’s done.

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