The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

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 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.

I don’t know how many people were at the perfect level of angst for The Perks of Being a Wallflower when it was re-popularized by its movie adaptation but I was one of them. It’s a great story and the letter-style telling fits the protagonist so well.

Charlie is a bit more than a wallflower – there are some real demons in his closet – but I think that’s what makes The Perks of Being a Wallflower one of the more resonating coming-of-age stories I’ve read. The issues Charlie faces are the kind of things kids don’t often talk about with their parents or even their friends. Chbosky’s realism makes reading Charlie’s letters sort of therapeutic.

Charlie’s friends clearly care a lot about him but, as it goes with teenagers, have to balance being there for him with their own problems. (Reflecting on my high school years, The Perks of Being a Wallflower almost perfectly details how being a teenager can be so empowering and so isolating at the same time.) There’s no final resolution to the ending but you’re left confident that Charlie is better off than he was at the start and there’s a satisfying finish to the up-and-down-and-up story.

Basically, if you’re a fan of John Green, you’d like The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

Photo and synopsis from Amazon

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