This book is currently out as a movie right now. It came out (the book) in 1999. In 1999, I was a senior in high school. Preoccupied with passing Calculus and getting into college, I wasn't really too much of a reader that year, believe it or not. So somehow, this book passed me by. I've seen it on shelves, and it's been a young adult book cult classic for a long time, but I still never got to it until now. I can say that I am really glad I read it.
Some books stick with you and you feel all happy and warm and fuzzy inside when you finish. Others make you grab boxes of tissues. This one stayed with me, but not in a way I've experienced before. I just enjoyed it. I was glad to have gone on the journey with Charlie.
So the books is told through letters written by Charlie to his listener. He is wandering through high school. He's different. He's really smart. He's got a family. They're great, but like all families, they have their issues. He is observant. He doesn't really "participate" in life. His English teacher gives him some extra books to read and encourages him to participate. He does.
This is the story of his participation (or sometimes his lack of it) in school, life, and love over the course of the year. He meets up with Patrick and Sam who are cool and quirky. They adventure. They experiment. They are infinite. We follow Charlie to football games, school dances, and parties. Charlie thinks of others before himself, sometimes to a fault.
It's hard to really describe this little book. But it was really good. I read most of it one sitting because I just followed Charlie and wanted to know how things worked out for him.
The book does touch on some scary subjects: drugs, sex, date rape, domestic violence. But it's in a way that really shows readers how terrible these things can be for young people. To ignore these issues isn't good...they're real, and I felt that the author presented them and handled them well. But they aren't the focus of the book. To me the book was about figuring out who you are and about trying to make it in this crazy world, even when it seems like that is the hardest thing you can do. There were so many touching moments in the story. I am really happy I finally got to this one. I recommend to students who don't mind reading books about big issues. I also think you decide pretty quickly if you like the letter format and Charlie's narrating voice. The reader can take it from there and decide if this is the book for you.