I read it anyway. I don’t agree with 98% of the content, but that’s the thing…it did a great job portraying how sad everyone is, something we are so often blind to. As a book, I don’t like it—but you can’t help feeling that it’s real. It did make me think.
I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone, unless they want to open their eyes to the darkness of life. Not unless they are strong enough to realize what a person goes through in silence. The hardest thing I experienced reading this was the realization that all the suffering had one common factor: Loneliness. If you don’t love people, they’re going to suffer—and they will resort to awful coping methods.
As an aside, I found the writing style very poor and sloppy. Perhaps it would do as a blog post, but I didn’t enjoy the style as a novel—not even in the context of it being letters from an anonymous person. It was a quick and powerful read, but I don’t like the way it was written. Charlie’s naïveté is a little exaggerated and frustrating, even after he turns sixteen. You’d think he became a little more alert, especially since he’s such a good reader and student, but it felt like he closed his eyes—which irritated me as a reader.
This novel is powerful and very real, despite all that. People do suffer in silence, frightened to reach out for help; often this silence is fatal. It’s not a book for the faint of heart, or someone easily affected by explicit material. Here’s the thing: You don’t have to read this book to understand a person’s loneliness. Instead of reading something you’re probably uncomfortable with, look at the people around you.
Start paying attention and understanding. We have a duty to care for one another. This book did one thing well, and that’s exposing the suffering in our everyday lives. Misery—it’s everywhere! Quit being distracted by trivial things, and look at your friends again—look at them and ask what’s hurting, because something will be.
I wouldn’t recommend this book. The thing is, you don’t even need to read it. There’s already suffering just like this everywhere! You’ve got to open your eyes.
I don’t agree with the decisions made by many of the characters, but I kept reading because it was so very convicting. I kept reading because sometimes you have to look, even if it’s ugly. I don’t like this writing style, and I don’t like what the characters do. I don’t agree with their choices, and that’s the whole point of reading it. Because it’s happening, and putting a book away isn’t going to stop anything.
Sometimes you just need a really ugly book to realize that the world needs help. Just because we Christians have a higher standard of morals doesn’t mean we can abandon people who don’t. It doesn’t mean we can pretend that they’re not living the wrong decisions, and suffering because of it. We have to leave our comfort zone and help our fellow human beings.
I didn’t like the book. I think that was the point. It’s ugly, because the world is ugly. We are the salt and light whose job is to clean it up as well as we can. Blinding ourselves to the ugliness isn’t going to make it go away.
I don’t endorse the decisions made in this book, or the morality. And I would honestly say, don’t read it unless you’re ready to expose yourself to reality. This is what we’re supposed to clean up. These are the people we’re supposed to help. Don’t read it unless you’ll get the message and do something.
Next time you hang out with a friend, try paying attention to the little things—like Charlie did. He noticed because he was quiet and listened. He noticed a lot of really ugly things that we need to help one another cope with. The suffering of the world made him very sad, just as it should. We’re out here to try and heal, because Jesus gave us that mission. There are a lot of people out there suffering because we’re afraid to leave our comfort zone.
I did a lot of thinking before I made the decision to read this book, knowing I wouldn’t agree with the content. I was also curious as to why so many copies are in print, and why they made it into a movie. My first reaction when I started reading the book was, “How could they make a movie out of such a horrible book?”
Then I realized, maybe people do need to see. Maybe then they’ll do something, because lately no one’s doing anything at all. We can’t become numb to darkness by closing our eyes to it. We need to be prepared to react and defend ourselves from these things. They happen every single day, but hurt so very badly.
I advocate purity, but not crawling into a hole away from reality, because doing so isn’t equipping you to protect your purity at all.
Let me repeat—you don’t have to read this book if you know it’ll make you uncomfortable. Just take a look around you, and you’re going to see things just as awful in your everyday life. There’s nothing we can do with the decisions made in the book: It’s been published, and millions of people have read it. But you can make a difference in your own life, so go make that difference.
Someone’s waiting for you to talk to them.
Don’t be a wallflower.