I’m still in denial about being back at uni and work. So with a free evening, which if I’m honest should probably be used for reading very tedious books about education, I am sitting on my laptop writing while watching Perks of Being A Wallflower. Again.
I found a copy of Stephen Chbosky’s book last year in London. It is probably the first book I’ve read that has been set in a high school context that has any reflection or relation to my own teenage experience. There’s always that worrying moment that you think a film will ruin your love of a book. But as the film script was written by the author, the cast chosen by him – the whole atmosphere is there.
From being friends with people older than you, to having friends experimenting with drugs, having the one teacher that believed in you, and all the other teachers that didn’t really care, to open conversations about sex, to anxiety, panic attacks and depression, being dragged to rugby matches because my friend fancied one of the players, to fights in school, to knowing that an incident has brought up a whole host of history between people you had no idea of, to abortion, to trying to turn it around to get into university after spending a year off the rails…
I even remember a bunch of us dancing and singing to ‘Come on Eileen’ in the pub that I used to frequent with the sixth years when I was in fourth year every Thursday night. The only thing missing was the soundtrack of Krezip and Oasis. And making oh so many mixtapes. Some of them I still have.
Of course I’m British so we didn’t have cars when we were in high school – unless we got lucky by passing our test super quick if we had a March/April birthday so we didn’t have a pick up truck to fly through a tunnel too. We just had running through the streets late at night – sometimes barefoot (which is in itself precarious and mental given our Scottish climate).
I really get why so many teens have written to him to say that the book had saved their lives. I think if I’d been reading and watching this at 14, 15, 16, 17…I’d have been writing to say the same thing.