The Perks of Being a Wallflower
by Stephen Chbosky
4.15 of 5 stars 4.15 · rating details · 225,380 ratings · 18,917 reviews
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.
Paperback, 213 pages
Published February 1st 1999 by MTV Books and Pocket Books
0671027344 (ISBN13: 9780671027346)
Charlie, the sensitive and strange protagonist of The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a welcome departure from the brooding and angst-ridden narrators we so often get in young adult literature, aka realistic teenagers. Told through letters directed simply to "Dear Friend," the novel shows an uber- accepting, observant and philosophical high school freshman trying to "participate" in life, rather than just watching curiously from a distance. Charlie is gentle and vulnerable, a boy who makes no judgement, but rather practices extreme empathy. He comes off to me as a mix of Micheal Cerra and Harold from Harold and Maude. Just a genuinely innocent and sweet soul, though at times he was so innocent that I kept trying to figure out if I had missed a clue about his personality. Was he really an adolescent whose advanced intellect had him bumped up to high school? Did he have Asperger's or some other disorder on the Autism spectrum?
I cheered when Charlie found some friends who accepted and appreciated him as he was, naivete and all. And he becomes charmingly devoted to them, particularly siblings Sam (the girl he loves) and Patrick (the gay kid with inner torment.) And his introduction to them and their friends brings a lot of excitement and firsts for Charlie. He helps them with their conflict and heartbreaks, and they make him feel "infinite" and give him the courage to understand his panic attacks and a few painful memories.
There's an inner peace and wisdom that Charlie possesses that makes this book cool-headed, mild and easy to lap up, chapter after chapter. I absolutely adored it.