The Perks of Being a Wallflower

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

All of the hype surrounding the film adaptation of Stephen Chbosky’s novel The Perks of Being a Wallflower had me intrigued. I was sold once I’d read the blurb and some of the book’s amusing quotes written on the front cover. The hand-written styled font on the front cover gave the indication that the novel would have a personal feel to it. Rightly so, the novel is told through Charlie, a freshman embarking on his first year of high school. With parallels to Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, Chbosky’s novel is a story about growing up, the high school years, and the agonising highs and lows of being a teenager.


The novel is written through letters which Charlie writes to a ‘Friend’, who we never learn the identity of. Charlie’s worries about starting his high school years are made worse as he learns that his sole friend, Michael, has committed suicide. Being socially awkward and feeling he has no-one to support him, Charlie becomes friends with Patrick and his step-sister, Sam, who are seniors.


Throughout his school year, Charlie endures bullies, dating for the first time, his first kiss and first love. He experiments with alcohol and drugs, as well as developing his writing skills as he reads his way through classic books, set to him by Bill, his English teacher. His development in his writing is seen as the novel progresses. Towards the end of the novel, a family secret which Charlie has repressed is revealed, leading to Charlie suffering a mental breakdown.


What I love about this novel is Charlie’s philosophical thoughts on life. I like how he spends pages describing something basic, and then will add a sentence onto the end of his letter describing something bigger which has happened; almost like he has forgotten it has happened, and he suddenly remembers. I feel it’s the little things like this which truly makes the novel relate to real life. The blurb on the cover of Perks describes Charlie as ‘a wallflower, caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it’. I think this is portrayed perfectly throughout the novel. His use of drugs and alcohol is an escape from life, yet befriending seniors and working dutifully on the work which Bill sets him shows he is trying to live his life, despite being one of the unpopular kids.


Personally, I think this is a great novel and I would highly recommend it. This is a quirky novel which confronts the issues which the majority of teens may go through in their adolescent years. It’s a great book to pick up and read if you’ve had a bad day and could do with something to take your mind off of it. I have not seen the film version yet, but I’m definitely glad I picked this up to read!

By Amber Gunn

Click here to buy The Perks of Being a Wallflower

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