It is hard to describe how a few select books make me feel. They touch something in me and somehow make me feel everything. It is not that the books in question are lofty literature or anything like that. The actual writing—the words—can be very simple. I think it might have more to do with the voice and tone. In the two books I am thinking of, the voice happens to be male: Craig in Ned Vizzini’s It’s Kind of a Funny Story and Charlie from Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Both books/characters talk about things I understand, no matter the gender.
I really wish I had read both of these books at a critical point in my life—my mid-teens. I know this could have happened with Perks because it was printed in 1999. Funny Story was printed in 2006, when I was about 18 years old, so it would have been too late, maybe.
Both of these characters reflect something deep in me, something I think has to do with being bipolar, or at least knowing what depression—deep down blue depression—feels like. These books speak truths that no one told me about during those scary years. I wish someone had pressed a copy of Perks into my 15-year-old hands and said, “You are not alone.” Because, simply put, that’s what these books do; they each say, in bold letters: “You Are Not Alone.”
It’s that feeling when you’re all alone in a crowded room and your eyes meet someone and you know they know. You feel linked. And the moment may be brief but the fact of it is something you remember.
I know I’m not the only one to feel it because both Funny Story and Perks have been made into movies, in 2010 and 2012, respectively. I’m not the only one who wants a brain map from Craig or a mixtape from Charlie with the Smiths’ song “Asleep” on it (twice). These stories crack your chest open, reach in, and grab ahold of your heart.
All these words are only a glimpse of my true meaning. It is something you can only talk around but never name. And like only a few other books—The Giver, the Harry Potter series—these books will probably stay with me forever.