Wednesday, October 17, 2012

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

Name of Book: The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Author: Stephen Chbosky

ISBN: 978-0-671-02734-6

Publisher: Gallery Books

Type of book: rape, molestation, young adult, 1991-1992, college, mental hospital, first love, first kiss, music, letters, epistolary novel, sibling relationship, friendship, homosexuality

Year it was published: 1999


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.


Charlie is not a realistic character. Not at all. He is not a participant in life and is best described as Gary Stuish. (Do teenagers really wish others the best and never do anything besides writing letters?) The female character in terms of the sister isn't accurate. I would imagine that after a certain event she would be upset and crying or else in shock at her behavior. Instead she acts if its not a big deal and moves on with her life. I applaud her for moving on, but I would have liked to see her being upset about the event or something like that.  Although other characters are interesting and I did try to care, I couldn't care about any of them.


Being a teenager is hard.


This is written in first person narrative in epistolary from Charlie's point of view. Charlie never discusses important information with the reader, but often talks about unimportant information. He would  start discussing something, let's say masturbation for example, then move on to another topic and then to another. I never sensed he was a genius and somehow reading various books does not a genius make. Use concrete examples from the books you read like this: "Whenever my grandfather talks badly about African Americans, I often wonder if that's how Scout from To Kill A Mockingbird felt when she saw the court scene at the end of the book." Also, I would have liked to read what kinds of questions the psychologist asks Charlie.

Author Information:

Stephen Chbosky grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and graduated from the University of Southern California's Filmic Writing Program. HI first film, The Four Corners of Nowhere, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and went on to win Best Narrative Feature honors at the Chicago Underground Film Festival. He wrote the screenplay for the critically acclaimed film adaptation of Rent, and helped edit John Leguizamo's one-man Broadway show, sexaholix, to which he also contributed material. He also edited Pieces, a collection of short stories for Pocket Books. He is currently working on a pilot for CBS, entitled Jericho.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is his first novel.


In high school I've never done drugs. I don't even like drinking and would never touch a cigarette. Yet, its books like these that cause me to think what I must have been smoking or whatnot in order to have fallen in love with this kind of book. I fell in love with this book when I first read it when I was either in middle school or high school. I realize now that perhaps my taste has grown and I can sense if the book has quality voice or not, while in middle school or high school I hadn't gained that type of perspective thus almost all books were good to me. (I am picky when it comes to determining whether or not I like books.) Reading it now, in 2012 when, ironically, the movie is coming out, my perspective and appetite has changed a lot. Still, there's a fun aspect to breaking down bad books. My first problem with it is that the author tries to sound too deep. How? Constant sentences that begin with the word and. Almost every single sentence in beginning of the book begins with "and". While short and staccato sentences can cause emotions within a reader, I don't think he pulls it off. Also, so many problems of all types within one school year! How is it possible? If the author decided to stretch the period to ten years, then it would be realistic but come on; friendship, homosexuality, abortion, abuse (both physical and sexual), first love, drugs and whatnot all within a year?! I'm surprised he never bothered to include anorexia and bulimia or gang violence.

2 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

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