The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

#1 of 200

Original Language: English

Publisher: MTV Books
Country: United States of America
Publication Date: June 6, 2006
ISBN: 0671027344
Page Count: 213

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. This haunting novel about the dilemma of passivity vs. passion marks the stunning debut of a provocative new voice in contemporary fiction: The Perks of Being a Wallflower. This is the story of what it's like to grow up in high school. More intimate than a diary, Charlie's letters are singular and unique, hilarious and devastating. We may not know where he lives. We may not know to whom he is writing. All we know is the world he shares. Caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it puts him on a strange course through uncharted territory. The world of first dates and mixed 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. Through Charlie, Stephen Chbosky has created a deeply affecting coming-of-age story, a powerful novel that will spirit you back to those wild and poignant roller coaster days known as growing up.

Stephen Chbosky’s Perks of Being a Wallflower is one of the most meaningful, emotional and thought provoking books I have read in a long time. Chbosky names catcher in the rye amongst his influences while writing, and the idea has picked up with many reviews calling it a modern adaption.

Many of the reviews I have seen go on about Charlie epitomising the life of the average teenager, while others condemn it for lack of realism. It is as though everyone forgets, for just a moment, that the life of every teenager is different. Charlie is different in a striking way and struggles through the mental separation of his peers. I want everyone to read this without comparing his experiences to other teenagers, or discussing how Charlie would be picked on for being different.

The perks of being a wallflower follows 15 year old Charlie as he begins High School in 1991. He is an outsider, a wallflower, who sits quietly in the background observing and learning. He sees things in a special way that amazes his friends and bamboozles his family. Chbosky has written a coming-of-age novel that sets your mind on fire and tugs at your heart. Charlie is writing down a years worth of experiences in a series of letters to a stranger. Most of what he writes is something that we have thought or experienced at least once in our life, and for some people, may have been too afraid to admit.

“I just wish that God or my parents or Sam or my sister or someone would just tell me what’s wrong with me. Just tell me how to be different in a way that makes sense. To make this all go away. And disappear. I know that’s wrong because it’s my responsibility, and I know that things get worse before they get better because that’s what my psychiatrist says, but this is a worse that feels too big.” pg 139
The perks of being a wallflower is once of the most inspiring books I have read in a long time. It has inspired me to think, it has inspired me to feel, it has inspired me to observe and understand everything around me but most of all it has inspired me to act on and enjoy my understanding and my desires.

This isn’t a book for everyone. Too many people will scoff at it’s popularity and how it is overrated and unrealistic; but some people will pick it up, and understand Charlie and say “I feel infinite.”

Raiding Bookshelves Rating
This is my first review for 2010 and I am happy to begin the year with such a poignant and provoking book. I borrowed this book from my bf’s sister, with only a vague interest. I had heard good things, but wasn’t sure that it was my type of book. In the beginning it reminded me of the secret diary of adrian mole: aged 13 3/4 by sue townsend, but it has a lot more depth. While Adrian Mole was really just the whining of a teenager. Charlie is so much more, he sees and understands problems and finally learns to experience them.

I look forward to re-reading it in the future.

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