“The Perks of Being a Wallflower” is a coming-of-age story narrated by Charlie, shy, socially awkward yet extremely intelligent for his age freshman. He tries to hold on and let go at the same time, navigating through the uncharted territory of first dates, drugs, family, friends and many more.

The story is told through letters that Charlie writes to an unknown person. It is said from the beginning that Charlie doesn’t know who that person is either, he has overheard someone talking about him/her in his classroom. We cannot be sure whether the receiver of the letters is male or female, however my guess would be male, since the readers learn that he had a chance to take advantage of a girl but didn’t. Due to the unusual way the story is narrated through, I felt as if Charlie was sending those letters to me.

And I want you to know that I am both happy and sad and I’m still trying to figure out how that could be.

The novel read rather quickly and I would attribute it to the letters. They were personal and authentically written to reflect the young age of Charlie. It felt as if it was conversation and it was Charlie’s turn to speak, so you just listen.

The story line itself touches a lot of heavy subjects, included but not limited to, domestic abuse, suicide, abortion. The main character seems to be a late bloomer and so he doesn’t seem to understand much about those topics and seems oblivious to many, unless it gets explained to him. He is a rather strange one, very passive boy who is missing any kind of internal compass. Charlie doesn’t understand the society, how it works and its norms. He doesn’t really seem to understand what is wrong and what is right and what he should be going in certain situations. It is hard to read about a character like that, because I couldn’t help but to feel frustrated or even angry with him at times, but then I realised I cannot do that. It was all innocent and it wasn’t his fault, he was only learning what is obvious to the majority of people.

My dad said I did the right thing.  I hope that I did, but it’s hard to tell sometimes.

One of the cuter aspects of the book was Charlie’s English teacher. He seemed to be one of the very few people that recognised Charlie’s intelligent and tried to stimulate it outside of the classroom. Their friendship has grown significantly over the course of the novel, it felt realistic and reminded me of all the great teachers in my life that helped me get to where I am today.

The plot is a constant rollercoaster, with things happening one after another. Charlie wasn’t really catching a break. Ups and downs, and sideways, it was a lot to take in. The ending was … unexpected, to say the least, let’s leave it at that.

We accept the love we think we deserve.

When I read the description for “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” being a coming-of-age story, this is not what I expected. The amount of issues mentioned has been overwhelming for such a short book, it was hard to process at some points. In contrast, some aspects of it were comedic. On the other hand, some were creepy or cheesy. It almost feels like the author had tried to reflect an entire life’s worth of feelings and situation within 200 pages. It didn’t feel right, like the author has tried to break some tension and in a minute or two, the character back into the deep.

I’m still not sure what to make of “The Perks of Being a Wallflower”. Unique read for sure. It raises a lot of questions that may not have an answer. I’m glad I read it, but I will not be re-reading it, it’s quite heavy in how light it is about stuff.

Have you read it, what did you think? Let me know down in the comment section.

Thank you for reading this review and until next time, Dream On, Wolves!

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2 replies on “Review: “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” by Stephen Chbosky

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