“The Perks of Being a Wallflower” brings reality to young adult readers


Photo Credit: Photo via Pocket Books used with permission

Original book cover done by Pocket Books

By: Emily Spillar, Editor

“The Perks of Being a Wallflower” is a young adult novel written by Stephen Chbosky in 1999.


This novel is a coming-of-age young adult book. The main character, fifteen year old Charlie, is recovering from the death, by suicide, of his friend, Michael. Realizing that he has to start high school alone, Charlie starts to write letters to a stranger. Charlie has never met this stranger before, but he heard this person was nice. In school, Charlie relies on his English teacher, Bill, as both a friend and a mentor. Needing a friend, he works up the courage to talk to a boy named Patrick, who later becomes his best friend. Also, Patrick’s step-sister, Sam, becomes one of Charlie’s best friends.

Throughout the school year, Charlie is introduced to different high school experiences. He goes on his first date and experiences his first kiss. All of this excitement, also, comes with the downsides of high school too. Charlie starts to experience bullying from fellow classmates, but with the help of his friends, he lets it go. Charlie gets to experience the high school party scene. Where he discovers alcohol and drugs for the first time. In this madness, he makes new friends, loses some, but eventually gains them back. Charlie is very much into music and writing his own songs. He’s able to produce his own soundtrack with a mix of iconic songs.

Charlie’s family life is very stable. He has a family that supports him through high school, and that gives him confidence to face his high school experience. However, his parents do seem a little distant, but they still support him with every chance they have. Towards the end of the story, an unfortunate and disturbing story of his family is released, and he is later hospitilized.


Throughout this novel, there’s a roller coaster of emotions presented to readers. Chbosky portrayed the life of a struggling high schooler in such sentimental tone that makes readers wanting more. Charlie faces struggles that all high schoolers face at one point in their time in high school. Seeing how he deals with it just makes the book that just more realistic and likeable. Chbosky is able to portray the different struggles in mental health that high schoolers face through Charlie’s eyes. He simply is able to show what it’s like going through high school with deteriorating mental health and how a student is left to work through it.

Chbosky’s writing style flows very nice. He presents diversity in his characters and makes sure they’re all uniquely different, but still the same. It’s hard to find anything bad about this book, because it is just so nicely written. “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” actually turned into a movie a little over a decade later, and it was also nice watching the movie in real life. However, the book, of course, portrays the story a lot more than the movie does. Chbosky does not hesitate to include triggering aspects in his writing, which is very respectable. Overall, this book is a perfect read for a young adult yearning a good, relatable read.

I, personally, would give this book a 4.5 out of 5 stars on a scale.

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