Written By: Stephen Chbosky
Reviewed By: Anna Breese
Recommended Audience: High School, Young Adult
The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a novel about the ups and downs of being a teenager. It is written by American author Stephen Chbosky. The story is narrated by a teenager named Charlie. Throughout the book he describes different events in his life through a series of letters written to an anonymous friend. The book goes over subjects such as physical abuse, drugs, violence, and the awkward times of adolescense.
The setting is a suburb of Pittsburgh during the early 1990s, and Charlie is a freshman in high school. He is the “wallflower” mentioned in the title. Charlie begins his freshman year very nervous because his best friend Michael committed suicide a few months earlier. He doesn’t feel like he can lean on his parents or older brother and sister for support, because they have never understood him. He also explains that the only person he ever felt close to was his Aunt Helen, but she died in a car accident on his seventh birthday.
Charlie then becomes friends with two seniors, Sam and her step-brother Patrick. Charlie then develops strong feelings for Sam. Charlie writes about situations with his new friends including going to parties, feeling “infinite,” seeing and performing in The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and trying various drugs. The police found Charlie passed out lying in the snow after taking drugs at a party. While he was in the hospital talking to the police and his parents, we find out that Charlie has visions, which leads us to believe that he is not mentally well.
During the story, many relationships evolve and deteriorate. Sam begins dating and older college guy named Craig, Charlie dates Sam’s friend Mary Elizabeth, and Patrick secretly dates Brad, the Quarterback of the football team. Violence plays a main role in the novel when Brad’s dad catches Patrick and Brad in the basement together, and the dad beats Brad up in front of Patrick. At school, Brad has bruises and completely ignores Patrick. When one of Brad’s football friends trips Patrick, Brad doesn’t help Patrick and calls him a faggot, leading to a fight in the middle of the cafeteria. Charlie runs in and punches one of Brad’s friends. Everyone in the cafeteria is standing in shock watching Charlie, who has just beaten up the guys who were hurting Patrick.
Charlie attends the graduation of all of his friends and is very sad about the entire thing. Before Sam leaves for college, Charlie and kisses her. After all his friends left he felt very alone and almost committed suicide, but luckily his sister called the cops and the police arrived just in time. In the hospital, Charlie sees a psychiatrist who begins to ask him about his Aunt Helen. Charlie confesses to his parents and his doctor that Aunt Helen had sexually molested him as a child. He then returns home later on. He remained good friends with Sam and Patrick and I think it was a very happy ending.
Author Interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KhczVEDuYbo
About the Author: http://pabook.libraries.psu.edu/palitmap/bios/Chbosky__Stephen.html