The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Posted October 17, 2013 by Kaitlynn in 5 stars, contemporary, review, standalone, Stephen Chbosky / 12 Comments

book cover of The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Title: The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Author: Stephen Chbosky
Release date: February 1, 1999
Publisher: MTV Books
Pages: 213
Source: Bookstore
Reading level: YA
Challenge(s): None

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.

Once again, I feel like I am one of the last bloggers to read this book. I’ve had it on my shelf for at least two years and I just haven’t picked it up until now. I will admit that the movie is what made me read the book. I can’t see movies without reading the book so I forced myself to read this one so I can see the movie. I am so glad that I made myself read this one finally!
The Perks of Being a Wallflower is told all in letters from Charlie to an anonymous friend. To me, this style of writing did two things. It made the story quicker and easier to read (and it’s already a pretty quick book since it’s only 213 pages.) It also made the story seem more real. You never find out who the anonymous friend is and it’s almost like Charlie is just writing letters to the reader. This is one of my favorite styles of writing and I loved it in this book in particular.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower is what I would call the quintessential “issue” book. I cannot think of a single “issue” that wasn’t addressed in this book. Stephen Chbosky tackled suicide, teen pregnancy, homosexuality, drugs, alcohol, and so much more. He didn’t shy away from anything. Normally I might think that all these “issues” are too much but in this case I didn’t think that. Each “issue” was handled very truthfully and everything felt real. It didn’t seem overdone at all.
Charlie was such a unique main character. I loved him so much. He was a very messed up kid and I honestly couldn’t figure out what was wrong with him. I also knew that he had a secret but I never once guessed what it was. When I finally found out, it broke my heart. Everything that Charlie went through killed me. I laughed with him, I cried with him, I went through every emotion. As for his friends, they were all perfect. They brought out different sides of him and they helped him grow so much.
Overall, The Perks of Being a Wallflower definitely deserves all the praise it’s been getting. If you haven’t picked it up yet, do so now!

What others are saying about The Perks of Being a Wallflower:
Emily’s Crammed Bookshelf’s review: “This book didn’t absolutely blow me away, and it wasn’t my favorite, but it was enjoyable, and it had a serious undercurrent, and I can’t wait to watch the movie adaptation of it.” 

Wondrous Reads’ review: I never for one minute expected to like The Perks of Being a Wallfloweras much as I did, and I’ve since told myself off for leaving it for so long.” 

Little Girl with a Big Pen’s spoiler-filled review: The Perks of Being a Wallflower lost me when it detracted from my struggle, and the struggle of every young person I’ve ever known.”
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12 responses to “The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

  1. Great review! I read this book last year and LOVED it. Still resonates with me today. The movie is good too, but as with most adaptations, it leaves out a few things.

  2. Aly

    I love Perks. Even though I’ve never been in any of the major situations, I am kind of a wallflower, so I felt I could relate a little bit. Then the movie came out and that was amazing too. I just think Stephen Chbosky is such a genius! Great review 🙂

    Aly @ My Heart Hearts Books

  3. I love love love this novel! I actually read it forever ago in probably…2004? I just plucked it off the shelf in my high school library and read it one day. I haven’t reread it since then (or seen the movie!) but I feel like I need to soon.

  4. bee

    This will always be one of my all time favorite books. I re-read it at least once a year (for like the past 10 years). It just feels like home.

  5. You’re not the last! I haven’t read it! Or seen the movie!

    I’ve steered clear because I’m not much of an “issues” book fan, but it’s been getting such high praise that I may have to reconsider my position eventually.

    Great review!

  6. Christina Kit.

    It’s high praise for an author when a reader says a character’s troubles nearly killed her. It shows how talented he is at making you care, and the fact that the multiple issues didn’t seem too much, too overdone, really speaks to his talent.

    Haven’t read this or seen the movie, but I’m glad you liked both 🙂

    Lovely review 🙂

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