Monday, January 30, 2012

Book Review: The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Description (from Goodreads):

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. 
Since its publication, Stephen Chbosky's haunting novel about the dilemma of passivity vs. passion has received critical acclaim, provoked discussion and debate, and grown in to 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 fell 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.

My thoughts:

In all honesty, the only reason I bought this book was the fact that I knew that it is going to be turned into a movie. And since I am a movie buff, but also a vast reader, I knew that reading the book before watching the movie is the right way to proceed. 

"Charlie is a very different type of teenager" is an easy assumption to make. But when you start to think about it more, I guess he has many traits found probably from every other high school student. He is a bit nerdy and not very confident about himself.  He is not experienced in dating and sex. Even friendships are new territory to him. He is a bit naive and sometimes a bit silly. But he is also intelligent, funny and unlike many teenagers, he is not afraid to share  his problems and his life to a stranger. A stranger who is stranger to both Charlie and the reader.

The novel begins when Charlie enters high school. He is nervous and scared. His brother has been a popular student, a football player who is now in college. His sister is a senior. Charlie is into books, not sports. So he won't be continuing on his brother's footsteps. After the initial nervousness, Charlie finds friends. They are older than Charlie, and thus also more experienced. Through them Charlie experiences new things; dates, falling in love, drugs, alcohol. 

What I really admire in the character of Charlie is the fact that he never stops being himself. He is comfortable being himself around his friends; he is not afraid to show his feelings, he is not afraid to cry. It is obvious that something has happened to Charlie when he was a child. There are notions to a time Charlie has spent in hospital. I think also Charlie's sensitivity takes its roots from Charlie's childhood and what has happened to him. Other thing I like about Charlie is the fact that he accepts his friends just the way there are. He is not judgmental, he is understanding. He understands that everyone is different. That is probably because of the fact that he is also different. He is special.

I am really excited to see how this story turns into a movie. In the book the letters are like mileposts which move the reader from event to event; it is easy to follow how the time processes. So I am interested to see do we see Charlie writing these letters or do we see someone reading them. Or both. 

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a story about growing up. But it is also a story about embracing yourself and who you are. It shows it is okay to be yourself. Most importantly, it shows that we all fit in somewhere, we all have our place in this world.

According to IMDB, the movie is released at some point in 2012. It stars Logan Lerman as Charlie and Emma Watson as Sam. 


  1. I started reading this once upon a time and never got very far before I had to read a book for review. Now I have no idea what happened to it. Sounds like I need to find it soon!

  2. I had this in my bookshelf for a long time waiting before I actually started to read it. For some reason I found it hard to begin but then I got sucked into it as I read on.


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