Told as a series of letters to an unknown recipient, Charlie tells the story of his freshman year in high school. It’s the late 1980s and he’s recently lost his friend and doesn’t seem to fit in to any of the social groups, and gradually we learn about his family, the new friends he makes, first dates and mix tapes and all that goes with growing up.
This book perfectly evokes what it is like to be a teenager. It’s a time when we all desperately struggle to fit in, yet all feel like we never quite manage it, and this book sums that up magnificently. Woven through the letters there is an underlying sense of tension with Charlie’s story unfolding to an unsettling revelation, but there is also the joy and fun of growing up and first experiences of drinking, drugs, relationships and sex.
This book was a joy to read, yet made me feel sad and melancholy as well, and in fact, made me feel exactly how I remember as a teenager, trying to find my place in the social hierarchy at school, testing the boundaries with my parents and beginning to experience life as an adult.
A touching, heartfelt coming of age story, beautifully told.