The book is told through letters written from Charlie, the narrator, to an unnamed stranger. In the letters, Charlie expresses his feelings and nervousness about starting high school. Through the letters, he openly discusses his struggles with a friend’s suicide in junior high school, his family, and trying to “participate” in his life at high school. He befriends a group of seniors who accept him for the smart, sensitive, odd kid that he is and introduce him to drugs and alcohol along with friendship. They accept him as the wallflower he is.
This book is easily comparable to J.D. Salinger’s classic coming-of-age story, The Catcher in the Rye. It even seems at times that Charlie is a more modern Holden Caulfield. This is Charlie’s coming-of-age story and the reader comes to like Charlie, his family and his friends as he struggles through the ups and downs of family life, high school, friendship, romance and growing up.
I enjoyed this book. I enjoyed it more than I enjoyed The Catcher in the Rye. Charlie is more likable, and as the reader, you come to worry about him when he’s down and cheer for him when things are going his way. There is something to be learned from this book, but it has a lot of mature themes. Don’t (if you’re a teen) set off alone to read this and don’t (if you’re a parent) allow your teen to read it without reading it along with them.
Rated: DIRT. This would be a HIGH rating if it wasn’t a young adult book. There are a lot of mature subjects discussed in this book including teen drinking, teen drug use, teen sex, sexual abuse, abuse, teen suicide, abortion, homosexual sex, anonymous homosexual sex, masturbation, etc. There are also about a dozen uses of the f-word and maybe 10 uses of other swear words.