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The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

The front cover of The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky.
The front cover of The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky.
photo (c)


OFFERS A UNIQUE PERSPECTIVE. But there comes a time to see what it looks like from the dance floor.

Since it's publication, Stephen Chbosky's haunting novel about the dilemma of passivity vs. passion has received critical acclaim, provoked discussion and debate, and grown into a cult sensation with over half a million copies in print.

It 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, family dramas, and new friends. The world of sex, drugs and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, where all you need is that perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite.

Through Charlie, Chbosky has created a deeply affecting novel that will spirit you back to those wild and poignant roller coaster days known as growing up.

(c) Back cover, The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, Powell Books -

"A coming-of-age tale in the tradition of The Catcher in the Rye and A Separate Peace . . . . [Chbosky's] poignant reflections on life, love and friendship are often inspirational and always beautifully written." —USA Today

"Charlie's loving instincts are very strong. Again and again throughout the book he exhibits pure wisdom we all like to read about and witness. And Stephen Chbosky doesn't let us down. the language is plain and springy and blunt . . . . In this culture where adolescence is a dirty word, I hope nothign bad every happens to this [protagonist]." —LA Times

"Charlie, his friends and family are palpably real . . . [he] develops from an observant wallflower into his own man of action . . . . This report on his life will engage teen readers for years to come." —School Library Journal, starred review

"Chbosky captures adolescent angst, confusion, and joy as Charlie reveals his innermost thoughts while trying to discover who he is and whom he is to become. Intellectually precocious, Charlie['s] . . . reflections . . . are compelling. He vacillates between full involvement in the crazy course of his life and backing off completely. Charlie is a likeable kid whose humor-laced trials and tribulations will please both adults and teens." —Booklist

"Chbosky adds an upbeat ending to a tale of teenaged angst—the right combination of realism and uplift to allow it on high school reading lists. . . . [The protagonist] oozes with sincerity, rails against celebrity phoniness, and feels an extraliterary bond with his favourite writers (Harper Lee, Fitzgerald, Kerouac, Ayn Rand, etc.). . . . A plain-written narrative suggesting passivity, and thinking too much, lead to a confusion and anxiety." —Kirkus Reviews

AWARDS AND HONOURS #1 Young Adult Bestseller
ALA Best Books for Young Adults (2000)
ALA Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults (2002)
ALA Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers (2000)

Young adult fiction, ages 16-21; paperback, 224 pages.

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Charlie is a freshman in high school, that kid with the football star brother who's off at Penn State, and the graduating sister who doesn't want anything to do with him, especially within the boundaries of their school. He was always different than the other kids, and will continue to be different for his entire life. From the early death of his beloved Aunt Helen to the death of a good school friend of his, Michael, Charlie has seen real tragedies in his past, and they've come to affect him in ways that require therapy.

The reader follows Charlie in this book as he writes to an anonymous reader, his letters full of description that a normal mind couldn't put onto paper without a purpose. Charlie writes how he speaks, how he feels, in the exact moment that he's writing the letter. A certain day picked out of his high school life could make him feel horrible, and his letter would take on a somber tone, whereas the day he wrote about meeting his best friends, Sam and Patrick, who happen to be siblings, was one of the happiest letters that he'd written.

From the day they started talking for real at one of the high school football games, the three became close, and they started spending time together on a daily basis. He joined their group of friends and ventured with them to the local Big Boy whenever they needed a bite to eat. He even accompanied them to a special showing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, where Patrick enjoys playing Frank N' Furter, and Sam is a delightful Janet. Charlie even got his chance at playing Rocky once, and his friends couldn't get over his scene with the feather boa.

Throughout this book, readers get to know and love Charlie. He tells stories from his childhood, stories that tie in to simple day-to-day events that occur in his life, as he writes to this anonymous reader. He tells how he quickly falls for Sam, and his psychiatrist is actually no help to him. Within just a few short sentences of the book, it's obvious that Charlie is a very thoughtful person, and sometimes he tends to think too deeply, and too much. So much, in fact, that a reader may not know anything about him physically, or where he resides or even what he last name is, but we know that he has a big, full heart, misses his Aunt Helen more than anything in the world, and had even witnessed a boy rape a girl, in his own bedroom during a high school party, and he really never knew what exactly had happened.

Stephen Chbosky is wonderful at portraying Charlie just through simple letters. From the second this book is cracked, it feels like one is with Charlie; every time he told a story, it feels as if on is in the scene, witnessing it first-hand, from Charlie's perspective. Chbosky creates such a wonderful teenage character, that it's impossible to feel for him right from the start. As Charlie goes through the tough times of adolescence, readers follow him as he battles love, angst, drama, sex, drugs, alcohol, even homosexuality, through his favourite people.

This book is incredibly, expertly told from start to finish, and though it has provoked many debates among critics and readers for its strong take on some negative parts of teenage lifestyle, it is highly recommended to everyone willing to read. This will be a hit with all adult audiences, from young to old, for a very long time. Published in 1999, this book is still a bestseller almost eleven years later, and it is easy to see exactly why.

Overall Rating: A+

This book can be easily found at any Borders or Barnes & Noble bookstore, and is easily ordered off from the link above.


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