Author: Steven Chbosky
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 he 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.
At first glance, the Perks of Being A Wallflower may seem like your typical high-school teen coming-of-age novel. Enter freshman kid. Antisocial, introverted, messed-up family life, painfully shy, awkward, yadda yadda yadda. Insert overbearing big sister, idol big brother, a beautiful older girl to have a crush on, and a ‘sagely’ gay guy. Throw in a traumatic childhood, and you’ve hit the jackpot.
For anyone who even begins to think that about this book, stop. Stop right now.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower is written through the crude letters by a new freshman boy who simply identifies himself as Charlie. Addressed by ‘Dear Friend’, readers feel like they are connecting with Charlie on a personal, intimate level. We follow him through his psychological struggles as a new freshman with no friends, recovering from the depression he was crushed by after his best friend died the previous year. Since it is told through his eyes, we feel young and vulnerable again, and inevitably sympathize with him deeply. We see him feeling helpless about dealing with his sister’s own emotional problems.
At the beginning of high school, he is lonely and quiet and socially anxious. His first friend was his English teacher, who discovered his gift for literature. Luckily for Charlie, two seniors ‘adopt’ him: step-siblings Sam and Patrick. They slowly help Charlie come out of his shell, by being spontaneous, whimsical, carefree, impulsive, and capricious themselves.
Charlie is sensitively introspective, seeming to watch the world from the other side, with the incredible capacity to empathize with the struggles of the people in his life. “You see things, you keep quiet about them, and you understand,” Patrick told him, which neatly summarizes the entire book!
Even though Charlie is the principle character, all the characters have their own sad stories, which we experience because Charlie sees them: Patrick, Sam (who’s a girl by the way), their friends (his new friends), his sister, his brother in college, everyone. He’s the wallflower who is trying to ‘participate’, as he was told to do by his English teacher.
The best thing about this book? Everybody can identify themselves with at least some aspect of Charlie’s story at any level. It’ll make you laugh, it’ll make you cry, you’ll see yourself in it over and over again, and you’ll be sad and hopeful and happy, all at the same time!
My Favorite Quotes:
“And in that moment, I swear we were infinite.” – Charlie
“I think that if I ever have kids, and they are upset, I won’t tell them that people are starving in China or anything like that because it wouldn’t change the fact that they were upset. And even if somebody else has it much worse, that doesn’t really change the fact that you have what you have.” – Charlie
“I am very interested and fascinated how everyone loves each other, but no one really likes each other.” – Charlie
“There’s nothing like deep breaths after laughing that hard. Nothing in the world like a sore stomach for the right reasons.” – Charlie