The book is about a quirky fifteen year old called Charlie and his first year of high school. Something traumatic occurs to Charlie and he becomes anxious about starting high school. When Charlie starts high school, he begins to write letters to a person he refers to as a friend. He thinks that the person will understand and listen to what he has to write. While writing the letters, he keeps people like his family anonymous so that the person can’t find Charlie. Charlie shares his thoughts, experiences and memories in the letters such as opinions on high school, his first high school party and Christmas with his family.
The novel takes place in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania during 1991 according to the evidence of Charlie’s brother was playing football for Penn State and the mention of fort pitt tunnel which is in that area. The first letter was dated August 25, 1991 and the rest followed onwards. Furthermore, the novel mentions technology such as cassette tapes, mix tapes, record vinyls and typewriters. During that decade, the technology (mentioned before) were quite popular with the teenagers.
In the novel, Charlie makes friends with two seniors at a football game and is invited to hang out with their friendship group. During his first high school party, Charlie meets the group which consists of Sam, Patrick, Mary Elizabeth, Bob and Alice. Sam and Patrick helps Charlie through his first year of high school and different experiences such as drugs, alcohol and love. Charlie is a shy and thoughtful person which doesn’t always work in his favour especially when it comes to love. In addition, he pays attention to how someone acts but at the same time is naive about situations. At the beginning of the novel, Charlie has a “Charlie-esque crush” on the Sam but she doesn’t reciprocate the same feelings. Charlie tries to move on but by the end of the novel, he still likes Sam.
Just like Charlie, Sam has experienced a situation that she shouldn’t have been faced with when she was younger which causes Sam to turn towards boys and booze. Eventually Sam recognizes that she has more value than what she thought she was. Later, in the novel, it’s mentioned that Sam is dating a college guy called Craig. However, Craig is more interested in a physical relationship than an emotional one. Charlie observes that Craig is a terrible listener and is more affectionate to himself rather than Sam. Sam has a
When Charlie first met Patrick, he was known as nothing because of him telling people, “Listen, you either call me Patrick, or you call me nothing.” After meeting them at the football game, Charlie finds out that Sam and Patrick are step siblings when he asks “how long they have been going out?” During Charlie’s first high school party, Charlie finds out that Patrick is actually in a private relationship with Brad who is the quarterback of the football team.
I would recommend this novel to anyone in high school because the book mentions themes of situations that occur in high school such as drugs, alcohol, friendship and love. Everyone in high school is going through a different experience and I think this novel would help teenagers understand what they are going through whether it’s depression, anxiety or love.