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I want you to know that I am both happy and sad and I’m still trying to figure out how that could be.
A beautiful, introspective journey from a young boy’s perspective, where watching from the sidelines is his way of life. Many of us go through High School with no worries at all. We walk through the halls with a purpose and we seek out our friends for both comfort and support, never once stopping to think about those who are silently standing in the background with no one to talk to at all-that’s Charlie.
I don’t know if you’ve ever felt like that. That you wanted to sleep for a thousand years. Or just not exist. Or just not be aware that you do exist. Or something like that. I think wanting that is very morbid, but I want it when I get like this. That’s why I’m trying not to think. I just want it all to stop spinning.
Entering High School, into uncharted waters where kids can be as cruel as they are ignorant, Charlie has no friends to speak of and wanders the halls with no direction, no laughter, and no joy. He silently observes his peers with a keen eye, all the while wishing them the best-even if he doesn’t know them. And that’s the thing about Charlie…people can laugh and insult him, but he never once wishes ill on anybody. Forever a sweet boy who wants nothing but the best of circumstances for every single person, we are drawn to his selfless personality and adorable vulnerability.
I decided then that when I met someone I thought was as beautiful as the song, I should give it to that person. And I didn’t mean beautiful on the outside. I meant beautiful in all ways. So, I was giving it to Sam.
Things are tough for Charlie, but then he takes a chance at a football game and sits next to the outspoken senior, Patrick, and with Patrick there’s Sam, his stepsister. Charlie becomes enamored of Sam, of her beauty, her personality, and ultimately, her spontaneity. That’s when Charlie gets that giddiness again, that willingness to participate, to step off the wall and enter the crowd. He starts to see the light again, but with that light comes revelations that will both help and hinder Charlie, even lead to something that he has long since forgotten and buried deep inside-something that can alter the course of his life forever.
So, I looked up, and we were in this giant dome like a glass snowball, and Mark said that the amazing white stars were really only holes in the black glass of the dome, and when you went to heaven, the glass broke away, and there was nothing but a whole sheet of star white, which is brighter than anything but doesn’t hurt your eyes. It was vast and open and thinly quiet, and I felt so small.
Written in letter form to a ‘friend’, we get to see the progression of the story through Charlie’s eyes as he writes to someone we don’t know. Through this method of delivery, we are spoken to with a familiarity that is both relatable and funny, making it easy to dive into the story and lessen the blow of the tragedies being simultaneously thrust at us. I felt incredibly sad while also undeniably happy and hopeful, making for a tremulous mix of emotions that gripped me with their intensity and helped me to fall even harder in love with this story.
In the silence, I remembered this one time that I never told anybody about. The time we were walking. Just the three of us. And I was in the middle. I don’t remember where we were walking to or where we were walking from. I don’t even remember the reason. I just remember walking between them and feeling for the first time that I belonged somewhere.
I didn’t know how I would feel about this book. It’s one of those stories that is 100% controversial-you either fall in love with Charlie and his candid telling of events, or you can’t stand the book and didn’t find it relatable at all. I’d like to think people go into the story with an open-mindedness that leaves room for less harsh judgement, where they can let the story unfold as it is meant to be told-a young, confused boy who is only trying to fit in and find himself learning what is socially acceptable and what you should and should not do. He is branching out and trying to be someone new, someone who makes friends and keeps them, all the while reading and writing and expressing himself in both letters and english reports to keep him grounded and connected to the world, to something bigger than himself.
I know that I brought this all on myself. I know that I deserve this. I’d do anything not to be this way. I’d do anything to make it up to everyone.
This story is not for everybody. I can admit that. What I will say, though, is that if you are looking for something bigger than yourself, and if you really want to branch out and read an inspirational story about overcoming a constant struggle that is crippling and suffocating, this is a great book for you. It is sweet, passionate, and innocent, never once trying to be something it is not. Charlie is an amazing voice and I grew to adore and cherish his character. And as he wishes for every single soul to be happy even at the expense of himself, I will wish him the same-it’s all I did during the whole book. I wished for his happily ever after, and I hope you’ll do the same.