Summary: A high school freshman, Charlie, writes letters to an anonymous person describing the ups and downs of making friends, surviving high school, and "participating" in life.
Musings: The book covers a litany of social "issues": child molestation, child abuse, domestic and partner violence and abuse, drug use, alcohol use, sex, homosexuality, abortion, suicide, bullying--but doesn't feel overwhelmingly heavy. I sometimes had a hard time connecting with Charlie because he, and his problems, were so unlike me in high school. And looking at my high school freshmen, I feel far removed from such complex personal issues. Charlie and his friends did remind me of people I knew in college, though, so in some ways I could see this being a realistic portrayal of high school.
I liked Charlie's voice although I wanted to shake him sometimes. He cries a lot and is impossibly patient with his friends. That's part of his problem, as his friend Sam points out at the end: he thinks too much and makes such little room for himself and his needs and wants in living life.