So much of what Charlie goes through and feels are things that everyone goes through and feels. But here's the thing: the big reveal in the book bothers me. To me, it alienates those of us who don't have big baggage that could "explain" what we go through mentally. We just do. Sometimes people get depressed. It doesn't mean they have repressed childhood trauma. It's mean they don't. I'm not arguing that what happened to Charlie doesn't fit into the story--it does. I'm not saying the book or film holds this up is the only reason Charlie feels he does. But it does imply that this is the underlying reason for his problems, and that irritates me.
I do love the line in the book--I think it's in the deleted scenes from the film--where Charlie says I do love the line in the book--I think it's in the deleted scenes from the film--where Charlie says "[my sister was] worried about going to college, and considering what I was going through, she felt really dumb about it. But I don’t know why she would feel dumb. I’d be worried, too. And really, I don’t think I have it any better or worse than she does. I don’t know. It’s just different. Maybe it’s good to put things in perspective, but sometimes, I think that the only perspective is to really be there." I think this quote helps illuminate the fact that pain, worry, fear, and trauma are relative, and I know a story has to have drama to be a story, but there are times when I think novels might be better without the shock factor moment. Perks is generally so quiet and real--not that what happens isn't real--that I think it would stand up without it.
Then again, I am seeing this through the eyes of someone who has never been through anything close to what Charlie goes through, but who has experienced many of his other feelings. It may seem completely different to someone in the opposite position, and maybe that's the point.
In the end, we're all wallflowers.