The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

The critically acclaimed debut novel from Stephen Chbosky, Perks follows observant “wallflower” Charlie as he charts a course through the strange world between adolescence and adulthood. First dates, family drama, and new friends. Sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Devastating loss, young love, and life on the fringes. Caught between trying to live his life and...

Title:The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Author:
Rating:
ISBN:0671027344
Edition Language:English
Format Type:Paperback
Number of Pages:213 pages

The Perks of Being a Wallflower Reviews

  • Rachel
    Jun 15, 2007

    As much as people say it, this really is one of my favorite books of all time. MTV promoted it, it got a lot of press, so many people shun it and say it is overrated. I disagree.

    I didn't read this book until last year, when I turned 21. My boyfriend owned it, it seemed like a quick read, and I wanted to see what all the fuss was about.

    Main character Charlie is loveable from the first sentence out of his mouth. There are endless quoteable quotes in this book that had me folding the page over so I

    As much as people say it, this really is one of my favorite books of all time. MTV promoted it, it got a lot of press, so many people shun it and say it is overrated. I disagree.

    I didn't read this book until last year, when I turned 21. My boyfriend owned it, it seemed like a quick read, and I wanted to see what all the fuss was about.

    Main character Charlie is loveable from the first sentence out of his mouth. There are endless quoteable quotes in this book that had me folding the page over so I could write them down later. Charlie has an honest innocence to him yet such an intense depth and intelligent mind that he is quite the multifaceted character.

    While the story has its ups and downs, and really, there isn't a very intense plot, the reader is somehow sucked into Charlies head sharing his first kiss, his feelings toward his new friends, his feelings towards literature and music. He is naiive about so many things, and his bluntness made me laugh out loud on numerous occasions. He not only deals with issues like love, but also having a gay friend, dealing with death, and sexual assault, but also sharing his love of music and literature, which I think are two things that are being lost on youth today.

    I would give this book to every teenage boy and girl I knew. While Charlie isn't exactly a excellent role model, he does show that being different is O.K. and that friends come in all kinds of packages...to stay true to yourself. These things matter.

  • MizzSandie
    Jun 30, 2011

    I did not like this book.

    I am about to try to explain why that is so, here, in my own, personal review space. I am critiqing this book, based on my own opinions, personal taste, experiences and perspective, criteria and standards for literary work. It is entirely subjective, as I think all reviews, per definition, are.

    I mean no disrespect to the people who like this book, and who have found in it something of value. You are as entitled to your own opinion, subjective readingexperie

    I did not like this book.

    I am about to try to explain why that is so, here, in my own, personal review space. I am critiqing this book, based on my own opinions, personal taste, experiences and perspective, criteria and standards for literary work. It is entirely subjective, as I think all reviews, per definition, are.

    I mean no disrespect to the people who like this book, and who have found in it something of value. You are as entitled to your own opinion, subjective readingexperience, and standards, as I am, and yours is just as valid. And you have the same opportunity as me, to use your own review space, to clarify that. We don’t all have to agree. One opinion isn’t ‘wrong’ and the other ‘right’ – they are both right, because it is personal.

    If you are a big fan of this book, and have difficulty in understanding or respecting people, who disagree with you, especially on issues that are important to you, I advice you not to read any further. I will not be saying nice things about this book.

    A note regarding my own viewpoint:

    I have a background in psychology and work in this field. The knowledge that I have of some of the issues handled in this book, and the real people I’ve met working in this field, of course affects how I view the book, and is actually one of the reasons I think, that the way this book was written isnt a very good approach to or description of some of these very real issues. I want to underline that I look at Charlie as a

    character, not a real person, and I value the book as a literary piece of work, not as a real life story. To me, there is a huge difference between the two.

    That doesnt make my opinion any more 'right' it is only to explain where i am coming from.

    ------------------------------

    Some of the things that matter most to me in books are prose/writing style, storytelling and message. It’s one of the things that can make or break a book for me.

    In this case, the writing

    just didn't work for me.

    It was just too

    .

    Maybe it's the whole premise of the book, a story narrated by someone who is emotionally inhibited as Charlie, that didn't work for me? Maybe, but it didn't have to be. That issue and Charlie’s character could have been explored and dealt with, literary, in other ways.

    The book could have had Charlie’s narration interact with someone else’s (like an answer to the letters for example), or it could have been written in the 3rd person, maintaining Charlie’s point of view, but also being able to draw in other views, and how they collide with Charlie’s.

    I find it a bit concerning, that Chbosky wrote a book with so many serious issues like suicide, death, rape, social exclusion/inclusion, relationship violence, abortion, drugs, homosexual adventures, childmolestation/incest, parties, fights, without really dealing with any one of them in depth. To have all of these issues crammed into one book, without giving it the time and place it deserves, I felt, was a huge fault. Each one of these issues needs to be taken seriously, not pointed out on one page, just to be forgotten on the next. If you are going to write about these things, write about it well, give it the space and the in-depth exploration it deserves. To make the reader care for these characters, for these issues, the author and the characters involved must care too. I had a hard time stomaching that both Chbosky and the characters seemed to care so little, for something that is so very very real and so very very difficult, for so many people. It was almost making a mockery of them, which was very off-putting to me.

    The staccato writing and Charlie’s detached narrating, made me feel detached as well.

    The story is written in a very plain, very dull, very simple language, with the same sentences reoccurring over and over (eg.

    ,

    )

    The emotional description amounts to 'sad' or 'happy'.

    The portrayals of Charlie and everyone else in the story was so lacking that they felt like cardboard cutouts and simply came off as what they were; made up characters in a fictional story (and not a very good one at that if you ask me).

    The main character, Charlie, is 15, but comes off as much younger than that. He seems very immature, more like a 7 year old.

    How a boy can live to be 15 in this time and age (yes, I know it was written in the 1990’s but still, even then, masturbation was a wellknown phenomenon), without knowing of (not practicing) masturbation, is quite a wonder in itself.

    Charlie also cries a lot, which wouldn’t be a problem, if it was more nuancedly described. I don’t want to see /read about just the surface tears. I want to be taken behind the tears, into the pool they stem from, the pain they are a symptom of and maybe a release from? I want the author to show me what these tears mean, I want to understand them, to be touched by them, to be moved with the ebb and flow of them. In this case, that didn’t happen.

    The sentence

    alone, just doesn’t stir much emotion in me. Especially not when thrown about on every other page. Then it just gets bothersome and tiring.

    It's not that I have an aversion to tears (my own or others'). Crying is normal, and can be very healthy and soothing.

    But when it comes to a literary work, I expect the author to give more nuanced descriptions of feelings than just bucketful of tears. Okay, so they are sad. Very, very sad. Very often. Now, show me what that sadness does to someone, besides producing tears, tears, tears. I am not interested in the tears alone. The sadness is the root, the tears are a symptom. Many people are filled with sadness, but don’t produce many tears. Sadness can overflow in many ways. So: the sadness is the key.

    Which is why I was so disappointed that Chbosky never digged deeper than this very very thin surface. All I got was tears. And I wonder if all the crying came down to Chbosky simply not knowing how else to describe emotions, or how explore them.

    Much thought and debate has been given to the question why Charlie is, the way he is.

    There is the fact that he suffered from childhood trauma, and then there is the question of whether or not Charlie might be autistic. The latter is hinted at and up for interpretation, but never explicitly stated/diagnosed.

    The autistic spectrum is a varied one, and it comes in many forms, very few fitting the standard, but classic ‘rainman’ syndrome of a very intelligent but socially closed off person. It’s admirable to want to write about autism, a difficult diagnosis to live with, sure. I just don’t think Chbosky is doing autistic people any favors or justice with his depiction of Charlie as someone who might or might not be autistic.

    Again I must say: if you are going to write about it, write about it with care. Don’t make it into a guessing game, but own it. Don’t glamorize or deride it, but show its many layers and nuances through the particulars and the concrete.

    The same goes for the psychological trauma. It wasn’t given the care and attention it deserved. It was left at the end as an easy way out, like 'hey, he suffered/suffers from this and so i'm excused for writing a terribly boring book'.

    No.

    Whatever made Charlie the way he is, it doesn’t compensate for how the story was written and pulled off.

    To me, it's really besides the point, since I don’t base my rating/review on pity for a character.

    SO whether Charlie has any form of autism or not, doesn't really matter, because I thought he and the story was very poorly written.

    and let me be clear about this:

    Note (November, 2013): I recently saw the movie, and thought it was better than the book.

    Maybe because it fixed some of the issues I had with the book, like it left some of the drama llama out and it wasn't as heavily centered on Charlie's narration and perspective, and emotions and reactions was expressed through expressions instead of just (bad) writing. Different type of media - different possibilities. For this story, i think movie worked better than writing.

  • Aria (Blue Lily and Blue)
    Nov 02, 2011

    I decided to read this book not because there was going to be a movie coming out soon.

    It one of the reasons but then again it wasn’t the main one.

    I wanted to read it because the word “wallflower” caught my attention.

    I was not one of those kids people notice immediately.

    I was one of those people who blends in very well that I was no longer noticeable.

    I w

    I decided to read this book not because there was going to be a movie coming out soon.

    It one of the reasons but then again it wasn’t the main one.

    I wanted to read it because the word “wallflower” caught my attention.

    I was not one of those kids people notice immediately.

    I was one of those people who blends in very well that I was no longer noticeable.

    I was a “nobody”.

    I was one of those uncool kids back in high school that almost no one spoke to because I always kept to myself.

    I was insecure.

    I was scared that if I try to talk no one would listen.

    Actually I think I still am even though I am already working.

    I am still a “nobody” here.

    I have a couple of friends but it seems like no one really knows who I really am because I never let them find out who I really was.

    They know my name and a couple of unimportant things but I think that’s about it.

    They don’t really care about the things I like, the things that make me cry, the things that make me smile.

    I was just another person they knew by name but never really knew at all.

    has to be one of the books that I could relate to.

    It was very insightful and poignant that in most part of this book I felt like it was me writing those letters.

    Charlie (the main character) and I don’t have very much in common but still I found myself relating to his situation almost all throughout the book.

    I was not as introverted nor was I as smart as he was but there was something about how the author wrote him that you’ll start to see the world through his eyes.

    You’ll see how innocent and pure his outlook was in life.

    Charlie wasn’t normal and he knew it.

    He was struggling after the death of his favorite Aunt.

    He tried his best to “participate” but there is still this part of him that would be locked away from everyone else.

    Charlie was a freshman and he still has a lot of things to learn.

    Hanging out with Patrick and Sam (who were both seniors) exposed him to a lot of things he wasn’t used to (like smoking, drinking, making out those sort of stuff).

    His letters mirrors the experience or the things we went through during his first year in high school.

    As I was saying earlier I loved this book a lot because I related much with not only the character but with the whole story.

    We may not be like Charlie but the things he went through in high school were something almost everyone went through.

    I didn’t do drugs nor did I smoke a lot when I was in high school.

    But some kids were motivated in doing so by peer pressure but in Charlie’s case I think it was more of curiosity rather than peer pressure.

    This book showed us how a special kid like Charlie would cope with being in high school and overcoming the problems he would encounter as he goes along.

    Another thing I loved about this book was how it was written.

    Though it was written back in the 90’s when you read it, you’ll get this impression that it was just written recently in a 90’s setting.

    This book was transcend time.

    When you read it probably in the next 10 years you would still be able to relate to it.

    There were a lot of good quotations in this book but one really stood out for me:

    We are all different.

    We are also all the same.

    Most of us may not be as smart as Charlie or as popular as Brad (who I think was an a**hole) but all of us can still make a difference.

    We may be experiencing troubles right now but that could change based on the decisions or choices that we would make.

    I don’t think this is much of a review but more of a rant.

    Sorry my dear readers if this review disappointed you but I kind of like sharing my thoughts about a book that I really connected with.

    This book was one of them.

    I give this book

  • Tatiana
    Dec 01, 2011

    There may be a book in the world that can address, just within very few pages, suicide, molestation, domestic abuse, homosexuality, drug use, mental issues, first sexual experiences, rape, abortion, etc., and not sound like a

    movie, but

    is not an example of that.

    For me, the straw that broke the camel's back was when I realized that, to add to all of the above mentioned melodrama, the narrator was either emotionally or mentally handicapped. It appeared, C

    There may be a book in the world that can address, just within very few pages, suicide, molestation, domestic abuse, homosexuality, drug use, mental issues, first sexual experiences, rape, abortion, etc., and not sound like a

    movie, but

    is not an example of that.

    For me, the straw that broke the camel's back was when I realized that, to add to all of the above mentioned melodrama, the narrator was either emotionally or mentally handicapped. It appeared, Charlie's inability to identify any emotion within himself besides sadness, his constant crying, his lack of knowledge (at the age of 15) what masturbation was, his failure to understand any social situation (like a rape while witnessing it in his teen years) was indicative of either some form of autism or just severe mental immaturity. This, I thought then, was

    exploitative. At that point, only a victim of cancer (or AIDS) was missing from this already uber-dire, emotionally manipulative narrative.

    But, as it turned out, I was very wrong. Charlie was, evidently, just a shy, socially awkward, AP-classes attending, extremely gifted and observant student with a dark secret. At least, that how he was described by other people. What?! What does it say about

    's writing abilities if his supposedly intelligent teen narrator sounds like a 7-year old? If Charlie's writing was reflective of his speech and interactions, how in the world could he become friends with a crowd of cool older kids and even had girlfriends, all of whom thought him petty much the best thing since sliced bread?

    I can attribute the popularity of this novel only to the story's great variety of tear-jerking opportunities, teachable moments and life lessons, gently delivered by the ever-so-wise and deep narrator. This isn't even controversial enough to deserve all those bannings.

    2 stars for moments of interest of the train-wreck kind.

  • Reynje
    Dec 01, 2011

    If, like me, you

    frequent tumblr, you will have realised that there is only so far you can scroll before you hit something like this:

    Stephen Chbosky’s epistolary novel has something of a cult following, and the quotes that litter the internet seem almost anthemic, given the passion with which they are re-blogged, quoted, slapped across artfully light-leaked photographs and “liked”.

    A generation appears to have adopted

    , and by extension it’s narrator Charl

    If, like me, you

    frequent tumblr, you will have realised that there is only so far you can scroll before you hit something like this:

    Stephen Chbosky’s epistolary novel has something of a cult following, and the quotes that litter the internet seem almost anthemic, given the passion with which they are re-blogged, quoted, slapped across artfully light-leaked photographs and “liked”.

    A generation appears to have adopted

    , and by extension it’s narrator Charlie, as a sort of symbol of the experience of adolescence. Frequently criticised and challenged,

    seems to offer its devoted fans a sense of connection, of understanding, of honesty about things left unspoken, or whispered behind hands and closed doors. This book speaks to the sense of alienation that many teens experience, the questions of who they are and where they belong. Charlie has become a response to – and I mean no disrespect by this, as I was/am a voice in this – a collective, plaintive cry of “

    ”.

    It also seems to have become an unofficial badge of hipsterism, and therein lies the reason for my cautious

    approach to reading this book.

    To be blunt, I expected to dislike

    . I know my reading tastes quite well by now and I no longer feel the need to read books based on any kind of social or intellectual cachet apparently attached to them. If anything, that just makes me more inclined to baulk at picking them up.

    So I confess to a little chagrin at the realisation that I don’t hate this book. I don’t even dislike it. I’ll push the boat right out and say I was rather moved by this story.

    While some of the issues and content in

    may seem less groundbreaking now, more than a decade after it’s initial publication, I think it’s fair to say that they still resonate with readers. There’s been a lot of water under the bridge since 1999 in terms of “edgy” or “controversial” YA books, so it’s possible that the impact of the explicit or implied events in Chbosky’s novel are somewhat softened by comparison. Regardless, it’s still a book that successfully captures the way these topics are internalised by the protagonist, and it’s evidently a voice that continues to engage and move its more recent audience. Basically, it’s not strictly the topics that appeal, so much as the manner in which they’re approached and discussed.

    That said, there is

    going on in this book, and I have to wonder whether the sheer breadth of the issues touched upon lessens the strength of the story. And not in the sense that I think the events are unrealistic, necessarily, but more that (and I offer this opinion with some trepidation) at times

    reads like it’s a bit in love with its own moroseness. The novel’s gaze is so relentlessly self-involved that I can’t help but feel that there is something indulgent in its tone, which I was not enamoured with.

    Whether “wallflower” is a strictly accurate descriptor for Charlie is a topic I’ve seen expanded upon in other reviews, and I won’t go into that much here. Charlie is evidently an introvert, allegedly “gifted”, who has a rich and consuming inner world, but I think it’s clear that there is more at play here than simple shyness, intellectually and socially speaking. While some of Charlie’s emotional state is explained at the end of the novel, I feel that there’s even more to Charlie than Chbosky ever reveals, hinted at by the apparent naivety of his fifteen / sixteen years.

    What I did appreciate, and what ultimately caused me to like this book, was how accurately Charlie’s experiences with anxiety and depression were presented. Prior to this, I hadn’t read a book that so closely mirrored the physical and emotional manifestation of anxiety as I am familiar with it. The deeply unsettling sensation of nebulous tentacles of panic radiating out in search of something to fixate on, of instability and uncontrolled sadness, honestly made me feel nauseous. I can’t help but wish I’d had this book in my hands when I was teenager, when it probably would have meant the world to me. Anxiety is an incredibly frightening and isolating condition, and I think this book communicates that very truthfully. The sensation of being a spectator of life, rather than a participant in it, is all too relevant and close-to-home for many who have experienced a mental illness in some form.

    It’s probably no surprise then, that I found Chobsky’s characterisation one of the highlights of this book. From Charlie himself as the narrator, through the supporting cast, I felt that I knew who these people were, that they were real. (It actually makes me curious to see the film adaptation, and how the nuances and subtleties of the characters translate to the screen).

    I can’t say that I’ll be joining the ranks of dedicated, vocal fans of

    , leaving a trail of quotes in my wake across the internet. But I am quietly appreciative of this book, and the powerful, unique experience of reading it.

    You can read Shirley Marr's extremely awesome take on this book

    . Prepare for your daily cup of radness to runneth over.

    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

    At Shirley’s request:

    I tried to be a hipster today

    But they said my haircut wasn’t cool enough

    So I guess it’s back to being a real nerd

    Instead of a pretend one

    Then I thought I'd read The Perks of Being a Wallflower

    In my scarf with my fixie-riding friend Shirley

    Turn up my Smiths record really loud

    And contemplate my infiniteness

    But my mockery proved empty, hollow like my heart

    I wept bitter tears as I turned each page

    Trapped in a glass cage of emotion

    As I realised I will never be hip

    Ever.

    Miss Shirley, get your scarf on! I'm waiting for you..(in the meantime, I'll be listening to bands that are so cool they don't even exist yet.)

    ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>

  • Karolina
    Aug 02, 2012
  • Emily May
    Sep 30, 2013

    The popularity of this book baffles me even more than the popularity of

    . Maybe I really am just a coldhearted person with no feelings.

    Amazingly, I actually managed to start

    knowing absolutely nothing about it. I've avoided all the reviews and hype over the years, I've purposely put off seeing the movie because I wanted to check out the book first. I knew nothing except that so many people

    this book. I was a bit

    The popularity of this book baffles me even more than the popularity of

    . Maybe I really am just a coldhearted person with no feelings.

    Amazingly, I actually managed to start

    knowing absolutely nothing about it. I've avoided all the reviews and hype over the years, I've purposely put off seeing the movie because I wanted to check out the book first. I knew nothing except that so many people

    this book. I was a bit sceptical from the very first page when 15-year-old Charlie's narrative opened with short, choppy, fragmented sentences:

    But I perked up at the idea of reading a book by a narrator with obvious learning difficulties and/or autism*. One of my favourite parts of reading is getting to see the world through the eyes of someone whose perspective I might not have fully considered before. So I was willing to overlook the slightly annoying use of immature language and structure because I realised it was needed to get inside the narrator's head. Imagine my surprise and confusion when I discovered that not only does Charlie not have any learning difficulties, but he is actually considered "intelligent beyond his years", is apparently extremely talented and somehow manages to get straight-A grades. What????? And also how?????

    It's like I'm missing something. I must be, right? Because to me this seems like nothing more than the

    , desperately trying to manipulate my emotions with the subtlety of a million flying bricks. There's suicide, sexual abuse, domestic abuse and homosexuality crammed into the first few chapters. Is that not enough angst for you? Well, wait a few more chapters and we get drugs, incest, fights, first sexual experiences and masturbation, told through the eyes of a guy who sounds about eight but is actually a teenager.

    I didn't feel sad or moved or anything so, like I said, maybe this is a character flaw on my part. But I'm tired of reading books where I can feel the author's little voice screaming between the lines "Cry! Look people are dying and it is so sad, cry! Look incest and prejudice and rape, cry!"

    . Except maybe manipulated; yeah, I definitely felt manipulated.

    ____________________________________

    * A few people pointed out in the comments that those with autism can actually be very intelligent and I felt the need to mention it here. While reading, I wondered if Charlie might be autistic because dyslexia is common among those with autism, but I don't want to lead anyone to believe that autism denotes a lack of intelligence - in many cases, the opposite is true.

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  • Lola  Reviewer
    Jan 19, 2014

    That is quite true. I have stumbled across many beautiful sentences, throughout my reading, and ones that make us think but, this one, is my absolute

    of them all.

    There is so much that can be said about this, yet I don’t seem to find the right words, but I will try my best. It was such an… emotional, deep and realistic story. The plot was simple, if we only look at it as a whole, but every detail contributed to make it an incredible r

    That is quite true. I have stumbled across many beautiful sentences, throughout my reading, and ones that make us think but, this one, is my absolute

    of them all.

    There is so much that can be said about this, yet I don’t seem to find the right words, but I will try my best. It was such an… emotional, deep and realistic story. The plot was simple, if we only look at it as a whole, but every detail contributed to make it an incredible read. And every character to make this story an unforgettable one for us.

    Charlie was the

    I had ever encountered in a read.

    What I loved most about him though was how honest he was and how he wasn’t afraid to tell the truth. Some exceptions apply, of course, but he felt

    for lying that he made everything right and I couldn’t stop saying/thinking ‘‘Aww.’’ He was cute and loveable and it was impossible not to get invested in his story.

    Not only was the main character a fantastic one, but the secondary ones were as well. Let’s take Sam for example. She may have looked/behaved like a million other girls on the planet but, the way she understood Charlie and always seemed to have the right words for him, made her someone unique and a wonderful person to my eyes.

    There were multiple ‘love stories’ in this book but they didn't all end well. I wasn’t as affected by them while reading, since I saw the movie first, but it was still very hard to read about Patrick’s relationship with Brad. LGBT has always been a dear theme to me and reading about how sad, beautiful and poignant Patrick’s love for Brad was really touched me and I only wished, throughout the story, that they would both have their happily-ever-after because, even though they may not have been perfect,

    .

    I saw multiple reviewers complain about the writing. Some said it was too simplistic for them to enjoy it or perhaps they weren’t used to this kind of style. It very much reminded me of

    ’s--a book I highly highly recommend. It was indeed simplistic but, like Charlie himself said in the story,

    . And knowing that, I found the writing perfectly matching the story and ended up loving it and feeling like I knew Charlie in much more dept than than with any other writing style.

    The story was filled with different themes or messages, but the one I loved the most was this one: it’s not where we come from or in which family we grow up in that defines who we are.

    and it’s not because our parents treated us badly or were alcoholic that we will as well. It’s our life and, depending on ourselves and our choices, we will become who we are meant or wish to be.

    There is a reason why this book is so popular and appreciated by readers and, by reading it, you will certainly find out. It’s the kind of book I would suggest everyone reads, at least once in their lives.

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