A couple of months ago, I saw The Perks of Being a Wallflower. It had been less than a year since I read the iconic book. I don’t know what took me so long to read it, but I was especially fearful of how the movie would turn out. But knowing that it was in the hands of the author Stephen Chbosky, from writing to directing, I had a lot more faith.
Whether or not I had read the book, I really enjoyed the movie. It struck a cord with me and I bought it less than a week after seeing it. I’ve been wanting to watch it again so bad. I was trying to think about what I liked about the movie so much so instantly. I mean, I love plenty of movies and books for plenty of reasons. The acting was good, the story was obviously good…but there was something else.
And then it hit me. For the first time in what feels like forever, there was no supernatural romance. There was no dystopian future. There was no Facebook, cell phones, or even CDs. There was living life, going to school, dealing with complicated feelings (from closeted homosexuality to first love to drugs to suicide). There was humor and sadness in the most relatable of ways. And I feel like that’s something that has been sorely missing from the Young Adult genre for quite some time.
Don’t get me wrong…I absolutely love me some Hunger Games, some Twilight, etc.
But there’s something about exploring the feelings of being a teenager without the hunky love triangle, impending threat of violence and death, or the possibility of an immortal life that is necessary right now. It reminds us of what life really is ACTUALLY LIKE. I so admire the book and the movie for doing that. And it reminded me of why I love the author John Green so dang much.
He, too, is an author who explores love and loss and growing up in the most human way possible. There are some extraordinary things that happen within his novels, but they are of the ordinary variety. The extraordinary beauty of falling in love for the first time, the extraordinary devastation of losing someone important in your life…he has covered it all. And with no threat of vampire armies, war, or even cellular distractions. It’s not like his books don’t take place in the here and now (Chbosky’s shouldn’t technically count since the book and movie take place in the early 90s and Facebook and iPhones weren’t even a thought yet), or that he avoids technology.
But they don’t dominate the characters in the books.
I’ve missed watching movies and reading books about growing up that didn’t involve meeting an immortal soul mate or panned out like a predictable romantic comedy. There’s a time and a place for these things, and I love them for their mindless entertainment, but they don’t stick with me the way Stephen Chbosky and John Green have. It’s so wonderful to have these books and movies to remind us…but we most definitely need more. If you have suggestions on something I’m missing out on, let me know!