Review: The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Hardcover: 213 pages
Publisher: MTV Books/Gallery Books
Release Date: 12 Aug 2012 (originally 1 Feb 1999)
Age Level: Young Adult
Source: Purchased
Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository | B&N
Standing on the fringes of life... offers a unique perspective. But there comes a time to see what it looks like from the dance floor.

This haunting novel about the dilemma of passivity vs. passion marks the stunning debut of a provocative new voice in contemporary fiction: The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

This is the story of what it's like to grow up in high school. More intimate than a diary, Charlie's letters are singular and unique, hilarious and devastating. We may not know where he lives. We may not know to whom he is writing. All we know is the world he shares. Caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it puts him on a strange course through uncharted territory. The world of first dates and mixed tapes, family dramas and new friends. The world of sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, when all one requires is that perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite.

Through Charlie, Stephen Chbosky has created a deeply affecting coming-of-age story, a powerful novel that will spirit you back to those wild and poignant roller coaster days known as growing up.
When I heard a film version of this beloved (yet controversial) novel was being made, I had to read it again. I first read this either in high school or some time shortly after that in college, I think. I remember feeling a sort of kindred spirit with Charlie, but I couldn't remember why until I reread it. Even years later, this book still speaks to me and will forever be one of my favorites.

The first thing that caught my attention was the letter format Stephen Chbosky chose to write the book in. It works so well with Charlie's honest, young voice that you can't help feeling immediately drawn to him. He kind of charms his way into your heart and you end up finding yourself invested in making sure he has a happy ending. I think the author was brilliant in his ability to suck you in so well.

Charlie is quirky. I really related to him my first read through and I have found that I still do. Why? Because Charlie is an introvert, he's observant and he's a bookworm. He tends to think and feel... a lot. He can also see that he's different, but he doesn't know what to do with that knowledge. I think a lot of teens can relate to feeling different. Some embrace it, others fight it. Charlie is also honest, almost to a fault. He's a little passive, but he will stand up when necessary. He's one that you don't want to make angry, though. It's always those quiet ones you have to worry about, right? Yeah, I can relate to that, too. He wants to make others happy. He always thinks of others before himself, which can be a good and bad thing. He's incredibly intelligent, sensitive and sentimental, but sort of emotionally unstable. Charlie is a loyal friend that will do anything for those he cares about. He'll go to the ends of the earth to make someone feel alive, once he recognizes the need to do so. I still don't agree with some of the things he does (drug use, drinking, etc), or the language used in the book. I know it's becoming "the norm," but that still doesn't make it okay or mean I have to like it. Regardless of those few gripes, there is no denying the fact that this is a fantastic novel.

As for other characters, I really like his teacher, Bill. He believes in Charlie, which is very important for a kid like him. He's able to see there is something special about this quiet kid and is trying his hardest to help him see it, too. I'm glad his sister started to get better. She was shallow and annoying at first, but improved immensely by the end. Sam and Patrick have great personalities. They may not always be the best influences, but they're good people and loyal friends. They are definitely influential in helping Charlie step out of his comfort zone and participate in the world around him.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is beautiful and heartbreaking and tragic and triumphant. It tugs at your heartstrings and demands you pay attention to it. I wouldn't recommend it for younger readers, but I think older teens and adults will love it. Solid storytelling and character development. A wonderful coming-of-age story that will leave you feeling infinite.

A Favorite Quote: "So, I guess we are who we are for a lot of reasons. And maybe we'll never know most of them. But even if we don't have the power to choose where we come from, we can still choose where we go from there. We can still do things. And we can try to feel okay about them."



  1. So far as I known, no one reader dissapointed with this book.

    1. Yeah, it's pretty much a modern classic. Totally stands up the test of time!


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