Actual rating: 4.5 starsSo, I've read this twice now. The first time I read it, I think I was about 14 years old and I believe I originally gave it three stars. But after waiting a few years and reading it again, discussing it with my book group at school, and seeing the movie (which I loved), my appreciation for it has grown immensely. And I think there's a lot of things I missed out on or didn't sympathize with as much when I read it as a younger teenager. Thus, I'm bumping my rating up to 4.5 stars (and rounding it up to 5 because Goodreads doesn't allow half-ratings, hmmph). There are a lot of things I love about this book.First of all, it covers a lot of important issues without (usually) coming off as too preachy or trying to be too controversial. I say "usually" because there are times I feel when it gets to be a little too much. I mean, everyone's life in this book is really screwed up––and while I think addressing all these issues is important, it does feel like overkill at times and not entirely realistic. So, there are some parts that seem unnecessary to the plot. But for the most part, Chbosky handles the controversial subjects very well, and deals with them in a careful manner without hitting the reader over the head with it.Secondly, I love the writing. It's interesting how it starts out being rather mediocre and almost painful to read, but improves a lot throughout the book as Charlie learns more and more about how to write more skillfully. (Someone in my book group brought up that it was somewhat similar to [b:Flowers for Algernon|18373|Flowers for Algernon|Daniel Keyes|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1327870353s/18373.jpg|3337594] in that regard). We see a lot of growth in Charlie just in his writing style alone. And I just love how Charlie says everything, how can get across so much meaning in so few words.It's one of those books that is able to put complicated thoughts into very understandable sentences. I understand why many people feel that this book has changed their lives and/or saved them. While reading it a second time, I came to realize just how often I had those moments where I thought, "Wow, I've always had a thought like that but I've never known how to put it into words." As you can see below, I like a lot of quotes from this book. There are just so many little things in it that speak to me. (Random note: OH GOD I just accidentally turned off my computer but when I turned it on again this review was still here and didn't get deleted. PRAISE THE LORD.)Anyway ... back to what I was saying.So, I think that's what's the most important thing about this book. It speaks to people. And sure, there are a lot of people dislike the way this book is written or think it's unrealistic or that it's a pretentious piece of hipster crap. But, in the end, it has still changed a lot of people's lives. I don't think it has impacted me quite as much as it has a lot of other kids, but I'm just very glad that this book exists because I think a lot of suffering teenagers can find themselves in it. And although I haven't gone through a lot of the horrendous things that characters suffer in this book, it's still something I found comforting to read merely as someone who has dealt with anxiety/depression. Although it's a dark book in a lot of ways, ultimately it conveys a lot of optimism that things won't always be this bad. I can't find the quote unfortunately, but there's one part about just waiting for the happy moments in life ... and when you experience them, you try to remind yourself that you will be happy again just like you are now, and how difficult that can be. I'm not saying it as well as Chbosky does, but I just think that idea is so easy to relate to––that when you're depressed, it's hard waiting for those happy moments, but they do happen. And ultimately, you're not alone and you have family and friends who can help you.I'm kind of rushing now because I have to go out of the house. But I think that about covers it anyway. Basically, I think this book does a great job portraying high school life and showing depressed teenagers that they are not alone.