Author: Stephen Chbosky
Genre: General Fiction / Romance
Number of Pages: 225
Date Published: February 1999
*This is special double review - the rating and recommendations from the reviews appear alongside their individual reviews
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a book narrated in letters by Charlie, a freshman in high school. The book opens with Charlie’s first day of high school, as he reflects back on his best friend’s suicide in middle school and his favorite aunt’s death. Charlie is an innocent narrator, which makes the book very intriguing because it feels as though the reader is going through his experiences for the first time as well. Charlie encounters serious issues in high school detailing both family and friendship; sexual abuse and abusive relationships; first love and sexuality; drugs and alcohol; and depression. These real issues and situations are presented in such a way that readers can easily relate to them. Also, the characters are diverse enough that every reader can find someone to identify with.
I read this book in my sophomore year of high school, again my senior year, and I recently opened the binding a third time at the beginning of this year (my freshman year). It is amazing how this book continues to be relevant even though it is told from the perspective of a high school freshman in the ’90s. In fact, the issues it touches on are so universal that I argue it’s impact could be eternally significant. The book is well written with deep, quotable sentences on each page.
It did not take me long to read The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Since it was composed of letters, the chapters were short and left me wondering what would come next. I really love this book. It made me think a lot about life, happiness, and what it means to be human. It also opened my eyes to what some people have to go through. I was able to relate to some of Charlie’s experiences; he is a very real and complex character who I wish I could meet and have a conversation with. The book was a roller coaster of feelings – at times I laughed, and sometimes I even cried. The Perks of Being a Wallflower is one of those books I feel everyone must read. John Green nicely sums up my feelings about it: “Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book.” – The Fault in Our Stars. So stop reading this review and pick up The Perks of Being a Wallflower. (And watch the film after – it is a great complement to the book!)
Review by Colleen Brady, A&S '16
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Making it through high school is difficult. Among the angst-ridden issues are ever-changing friends, a persistent search for your true identity, a multitude of crushes or lackluster relationships, and way too much meaningless homework, growing up as a teenager can be a bit overwhelming. Yet what is arguably more difficult is finding a book that manages to accurately reflect the emotions and the reality so many teenagers encounter. Perks of Being a Wallflower manages to do this beautifully, and surprisingly in a meaningful manner. The story is revealed in the form of letters, which the protagonist, Charlie, a freshman in high school, writes to a mysterious “friend.” In the letters, Charlie discusses all aspects of his life, detailing his weeks much like in a diary. The letters follow Charlie’s life, from the constantly developing relationships with his family, his classmates, and his friends, and all of the crazy and ordinary things they do together. The letters provide an interesting insight into Charlie’s mind, as he writes the questions and concerns about life that many people would not admit to thinking about. Charlie’s emotional journey is entertaining, funny, and moving, with a relatable cast of characters and moments that will make you laugh and cry. The Perks of Being a Wallflower is, essentially, a coming of age and very Catcher in the Rye type of novel that will entertain, but more importantly inspire as well.
Review by Caitlin Mason, A&S '16