Feb 20, 2013

Review: The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Note: This review contains no spoilers

THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER is the unique, touching, and incredibly honest story of a sixteen year named Charlie who is making his way through his freshman year of high school in the late 1990's. It is told through a year long letter-writing correspondence with an unnamed recipient. Though the person Charlie is writing to is not revealed, he undoubtedly has a level of trust in this person.

Charlie is a shy, awkward, but highly intelligent boy, embarking on a chapter of his life that is many things: exciting, scary, confusing, and for people like Charlie, can be very lonely.  This is Charlie's remarkable story, told through those letters that gives insight and and hope to the power of friendship and what unconditional love can bring to a person's life.

My Thoughts:

This coming-of-age debut novel by Stephen Chbosky is one of those books that fills your heart. Charlie is not your typical protagonist. He's not a popular kid with lots of friends and he doesn't play on any high school sports team.  He's just Charlie. An incredibly honest, shy kid just trying to make his way though a time in his life that can be daunting for even the most popular kid. It doesn't take long to find out that Charlie isn't your average kid.

I tend to really enjoy epistolary novels so I was all in. These letters seem more like entries in a journal, revealing Charlie's innermost thoughts and feelings.  Chbosky did a fantastic job of channeling a teenage boy at one of the most difficult times in life. . There were so many extraordinary experiences for Charlie in this book and they were all beautifully revealed. I especially liked his relationship with his teacher who recognized the level of Charlie's intellect and worked with him to explore it.  That was a special relationship that I appreciated. The relationship with his beloved, late Aunt Helen was a brilliant yet shocking layer to the story that I didn't see coming. It knocked me out.

The characters were so genuine and for the most part, likable, but I loved the characters of Sam and Patrick, senior siblings, who befriended Charlie and gave him a sense of belonging and unconditional love that allowed him the security to be himself. Charlie, though, is the one and only star of this story. I will never forget Charlie and I'm sure I will think of him every time I'm around a group of teenagers.

Obviously, this book was a big hit and was made into a major motion picture in 2012.  I purposely have not watched the movie because I wanted to read the book first. Now I'm anxious to watch it. I just know I'm going to love it. Check out this trailer to see what I'm talking about.

If you're in a book club, this book would make a fantastic selection. There are so many things to discuss and the conversation would certainly not be dull. If you've read this book, please let me know how you felt about it. For me, it was a creeper. It crept up on me and before I knew what happened, I was hooked.  The bottom line is that I thoroughly enjoyed this book and recommend it highly.

Author: Stephen Chbosky
Original Publisher: MTV
Originally Published: February 1999
Length: 256 pp


  1. I read this one when it came out years ago. We discussed it for book club and everyone had something to say. Haven't seen the movie yet and probably won't, as I am happy enough with the book alone.

  2. I really liked the movie so I'm anxious to read the book!

  3. I haven't read this book yet but I've always been really curious about it. I should probably read the book first but I may just watch the movie instead.

  4. Hi Lisa,

    This is a new to me author and I also haven't ever come across the film before.

    I can't believe the coincidence that you should come across to Fiction Books today, to read a post about a book written by a film screenwriter turned novelist, only for me to reciprocate the visit and find you having written a post with an almost identical scenario!!

    Coming of age stories never really appeared on my radar, until I was asked to review one a few months ago. Since then, this is another genre which has piqued my interest, so I shall definitely be checking out 'The Perks Of Being A Wallflower'

    Plus, I can so relate to Charlie, as I was always something of a loner at school and, if truth be known, I still am!!

    Nice review, thanks for sharing,


  5. This sounds good! Great review, Lisa.

  6. I've wanted to read this one. Your review is awesome.

  7. I loved this book which I read quite a few years ago. Now I must see the movie!

  8. I have heard so many good things about this book, but have yet to read it (or see the movies). I really need to though. You've motivated me to do it!


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