Title: The Perks of Being A Wallflower
Author: Stephen Chbosky
Rating: 5/5 Stars
“Charlie is a freshman. And while he’s not the biggest geek in the school, he is by no means popular. Shy, introspective, intelligent beyond his years yet socially awkward, he is a wallflower, caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it.
Charlie is attempting to navigate his way through uncharted territory: the world of first dates and mix-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.
But Charlie can’t stay on the sideline forever. 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.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a deeply affecting coming-of-age story that will spirit you back to those wild and poignant roller-coaster days known as growing up.” (description from Goodreads)
I started reading a few chapters of it a few years back from a friends copy but didn’t get to finish it then. Ever since, I’ve been on the lookout for a copy (in my budget). I was grateful when a friend of mine gifted me the ebook the other day. So grateful that I dropped the few books that I was reading at the time to open this one up. I’m glad I started it because I didn’t want to put it down from the beginning.
I think what really drew me into this book was Charlie’s character and his voice. Because this book is written as a series of letters “to the reader,” the flow was smooth throughout its entirety and there was a nice conversational tone to it all. I think this was one of the few times when I’ve enjoyed a book that uses the 2nd person point of view so often. I’m sure this is because, while Charlie is telling “you” (the reader) his story, there’s more first person narrative to balance it all out. The main character only put the “you” into the writing only when it is necessary. And it is necessary for this book because Charlie is confiding in the reader who he is writing these letters for.
For the story itself, I think that many teenagers and former teenagers, alike, would be able to identify with aspects of Charlie’s character or at least with some of the topics brought up. A good amount of people were the awkward kid in high school. Or didn’t really know how to make friends. Or at least have noticed that people like this exists. In The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Chbosky writes such a believable, in-depth account of one teenager’s first year in high school.
Charlie is smart, (almost overly) observant, and has a heart of gold, but he can’t always get out of his own head to experience life the way that he’d like to. Even when he finds a group of kids who get him for who he is and gets comfortable, Charlie isn’t perfect and Charlie doesn’t always open up to them. I can’t tell you how easy it was to put myself in his shoes when thinking back to my own experiences.
So in a sense, my enjoyment for The Perks of Being A Wallflower came from a nostalgic feeling. But that wasn’t all that was there. It really felt like Charlie was writing these letters and not the adult Chbosky doing this for a book. The book was a young adult reaching out to whoever would listen because he wasn’t able to open up to people closer to him, as much as on a page. I enjoyed seeing his growth and his self-discovering through every step of this particular year in his life.
Was I a teenager who went out with friends, drinking and experimenting with various drugs? No, that wasn’t me. But did I feel connected to how human the writing in this book made Charlie feel? Of course. Charlie is somewhat of an everyman of his generation. He is the voice of so many young men, and women, just trying to survive being a teenager and to deal with personal struggles.
This will be a book that I’ll re-read many times to come. I enjoyed it that much.
You can grab this book for your Kindle for the (I think) sale price of only $3.99 over on Amazon. But if the physical book is something you’d rather have (and I REALLY want to find a cheap paperback of this for my collection) that can also be found on Amazon right now.
Kindle | Paperback | Hardcover
About the Author:
Stephen Chbosky grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and graduated from the University of Southern California’s Filmic Writing Program. His first film, The Four Corners of Nowhere, premiered at the 1995 Sundance Film Festival and went on to win Best Narrative Feature honors at the Chicago Underground Film Festival.
He is the recipient of the Abraham Polonsky Screenwriting Award for his screenplay Everything Divided as well as a participant in the Sundance Institute’s filmmakers’ lab for his current project, Fingernails and Smooth Skin. Chbosky lives in New York.