Title: The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Author: Stephen Chbosky
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Genre: Young Adult Romance, Epistolary
First Publication: 1999
Major Characters: Charlie, Mr. Anderson, Brad, Patrick, Sam
Setting Place: Pittsburgh suburbs
Theme: Trauma, Abuse, and Mental Health, Relationships and Intimacy, Adolescence and Transformation
Narrator: First person through Charlie’s perspective
Book Summary: The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky is an epistolary novel, where the narrator is a young introvert boy called Charlie. The story revolves around series of letters written by Charlie to an anonymous person mentioning his experiences. Though shy and sensitive in nature, Charlie is an intelligent boy with unconventional thinking capabilities. His first letters starts with Charlie mentioning about suicide of his Middle School’s friend and death of his favourite aunt Helen and how these tragic incidents have took toll in his life.
Charlie befriends two seniors Patrick and Sam and ends up indulging in alcohol and other drugs with Sam. In the meantime, Charlie also learns about his sister having relationship with an abusive guy and eventually getting pregnant. The flashback of his aunt dying in car crash stops haunting Charlie, as he starts enjoying company of his friends and Sam. While playing Truth and Dare, he is asked to kiss the prettiest girl in the room; he kisses Sam for which he faces neglect from the group.
“And in that moment, I swear we were infinite.”
Flashback returns. Will Charlie be ever able to get control over his life? Will he be able to get his friends back? What turns did Charlie’s life take and how he battled to overcome it? A story filled with drama and lots of emotions, including, friendship, first love and sexuality- The Perks of Being a Wallflower.
Book Review: The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
In August of 1991 fifteen-year-old Charlie begins writing letters about his life to a stranger who he thinks will listen and understand. He doesn’t want this person to know who he is, so he has changed all the names of the people in his life. Charlie has a tendency to over think things, and prefers to look on from the side-lines than to participate. As he starts high school, he is still trying to get over the recent suicide of his best friend Michael. Charlie soon befriends Patrick and Sam and is introduced to their friends. Their world is one full of sex, drugs, love, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, mixed tapes, and moments that make you feel infinite.
Charlie is easily the most honest and insightful teenage narrator I can think of. He thinks about and questions everything, and looks at things in a unique way. He is very naïve and innocent as the novel begins, making his voice distinctive and unlike the average teenager. The writing style of The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky reminds me a bit of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time and The Catcher in the Rye.
“So, this is my life. And I want you to know that I am both happy and sad and I’m still trying to figure out how that could be.”
Stephen Chbosky was influenced by Holden Caulfield while writing this book, and he pays homage to that by having Charlie read The Catcher in the Rye. Charlie’s English teacher Bill assigns him extra novels to read and write about throughout the school year. Charlie’s favourite book is always the last one he has read, and I liked the discussion of books, movies and music throughout the novel. All those things were a huge part of my teenage years, and I always like to see them mentioned in books.
Charlie’s friends and family felt very realistic to me. Charlie is very flawed and both Bill and Sam point out how he needs to participate and not put others before him. Although there are perks to being a wallflower, Charlie needs to stop watching from the sidelines. The ending of The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky was surprising and gave insight on why Charlie is the way he is.
“It’s strange because sometimes, I read a book, and I think I am the people in the book.”
After I finished reading The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky the second time, I tried to put my finger on what makes this book special. It wasn’t the great quotes or the characters, but how poignant this book is. What makes me love The Perks of Being a Wallflower is how real the emotions in this book feel. A lot of the things that happened to Charlie have never happened to me, but while reading this book it felt as if they had.
What can I say other than if you did not read this book yet, then you are missing one of the greatest books ever written.
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