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Dear reader-friend, thank you for coming today!
Today’s post is about a book I read a couple of weeks ago and really loved. I had walked into Waterstones looking for a very specific book they didn’t have, and almost walked out of a bookshop empty handed for the first time in years. Almost. I ended up buying two books, and this is one of them. This was one of my best compulsive buys ever.
I am always skeptical about novels written as a letter exchange, but this unusual one way correspondence works perfectly well and allows us a deep insight into Charlie’s world and in his unique style.
I think this is my latest favourite book, maybe like Charlie would say, because it’s the last one I read – but that would only be partly true…
This book wasn’t just entertaining, it made me wonder. Remember days when I would question the world around me, when I still had time to find existential questions in my every day environment and actually ponder them. When I remembered the exact birth date of the people I cared about without having to rely on FB or my iphone, when I also knew exactly what Christmas gift would make them feel special, what food they didn’t like and took the time to chat for hours or send long emails to the faraway ones.
The time when, like Charlie, I made mix-tapes (then CDs), photo albums and sent postcards whenever I was out of town.
Who’s Charlie? I’ll cheat a bit and use the book cover synopsis because I couldn’t put it any better than this:
Charlie is a freshman. And while he’s not the biggest geek in the school, he is by no means popular. Shy, introspective, intelligent beyond his years yet socially awkward, he is a wallflower, caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it. Charlie is attempting to navigate his way through uncharted territory: the world of first dates and mix-tapes, family dramas and new friends; the world of sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, when all one requires is that perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite. But Charlie can’t stay on the sideline forever. Standing on the fringes of life offers a unique perspective. But there comes a time to see what it looks like from the dance floor. (I wish I’d written that!)
This is exactly the essence of Charlie and his story: a touching coming of age tale, the tale of this unusual boy, the touching paradox that he is: innocent and awkward, with a huge heart and yet passionate, ready to throw himself headfirst into Life without a backward glance. Charlie and his love for his friends (Sam and Patrick) and family, so unknowingly talented and completely unaware of his effect on people. I loved seeing the world through his eyes, and even though I can’t pretend I can completely identify with him, maybe this made me nostalgic of all the things I mentioned earlier, of not making more rash decisions when I was a teen, of not being able to keep in touch properly and give people the attention they deserve…
As Charlie puts it so well: