Perks of Being a Wallflower - by Stephen Chbosky
Perks of Being a Wallflower

"a clever masterpiece about Charlie’s crazy life"

         In the novel The Perks of Being a Wallflower  we learn about the crazy and slightly disturbing life about a boy named Charlie.  In a clever epistolary style, Chbosky tells the story of Charlie, a troubled young teen, who writes these letters to an anonymous person who he feels will listen without judging him.  The letters in this novel take you through Charlie’s freshman year of high school, and all the trials and tribulations that go along with it.  You are thrust into Charlie’s obscure life, which can make you laugh out loud or be completely disgusted.  He has to go through very difficult situations at a very young age.  But he also goes to the drive in theatre every Friday night to watch The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and he loves that.  

    Throughout this book Charlie succumbs to crying spells that are seemingly unexplained.  The letters take you to meet his first two high school friends, Sam and Patrick, seniors and step-siblings with whom his adventure really takes off.  He goes to wild parties, where alcohol and drug experimentation are rampant.  He also spends a lot of time with them at the Big Boy, the local hangout.  The letters give you insight into his family life and the holidays.  You also get a glimpse into what his love life is, and what he wants it to be.

            In this cleverly worked masterpiece Chbosky keeps in touch with his readers.  He uses rather short sentence structure, so your attention is never lost.  He also makes it seem like the letters are from a real teenager, so there are no complex words or confusing diction.  The plotline is rather straight forward and the path is kept throughout the novel.  With Chbosky’s writing style you feel very in touch with the characters.  You get to know each character personally and you feel like you actually know them.  Charlie looks for refuge in his best friends.  His sister is salutatorian of her class, and Charlie always looks to her for approval.  Charlie’s best friends are Sam, a girl who he says he is in love with, and Patrick, Sam’s gay stepbrother.  Another important character is Bill, Charlie’s English teacher who realizes Charlie’s potential.  Also there is Brad, who is the quarterback of the football team, and Patrick’s partner who is still in the closet.  One other important character is Mary Elizabeth, who was Charlie’s first girlfriend.   There is also Charlie’s dead Aunt Helen, who was Charlie’s favorite relative who had the most major impact on his life.  With a combination of influences of all of these people Charlie leads a rather confusing life.  Chbosky’s masterpiece can be considered very controversial but is a worthwhile novel to read.

   - Ben B.

"a heart wrenching look at  the naivete of a high school freshman"

         The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, is a vivid portrayal of the heartbreaks and struggles of being a teenager. The book is a collection of letters written by a fifteen year old freshman named Charlie. Charlie is dealing with the death of his beloved Aunt Helen as well as the suicide of his good friend Michael. He enters high school with no friends and a tendency to observe life rather than participate in it. Eventually befriended by a brother and sister named Patrick and Sam, Charlie is enticed with Sam’s beauty and Patrick’s unique spirit. Through these people a major theme of relationships is woven throughout the book. Charlie toys with his problem of loving Sam, even though he shouldn’t. The book centers around the relationships that Charlie makes, and how they affect him. Charlie is told by his English teacher that he needs to participate in life rather than observe. Charlie struggles throughout the novel to be involved in life. Although this trait is considered a flaw, it is the very flaw that his new friends come to love.

    Chbosky uses simple language to illustrate the thoughts of a typical teenager. The language tends to be a bit abrupt, but it goes well with Charlie’s personality. It expertly gets across the point of view of a troubled high school boy. The plot tends to be complicated at times, but is easy to read and understand due to the simplicity of the words. The book is like a collection of letters that a typical teenager would write to one of their friends.

            The book well portrays the typical life of teenagers who experiment and deal with all kinds of hardships. It shows how hard and frightening the life of a teenager can be. Due to Charlie’s internal conflicts over the death of his aunt and friend, Charlie experiments with drugs, sex, and alcohol. He dabbles with the idea of being “infinite”. Charlie’s innocence as well as his somewhat odd personality provides a few humorous parts in the book. Unfortunately most of the book is pretty heart-wrenching. Charlie’s naiveté about certain things, as well as his tendency to watch life, causes a sense of empathy and pity for him. While reading the book it is impossible not to feel a bit sorry for him. In the end, Charlie finds out a devastating truth that shakes him up quite a bit. However, Charlie is able to come to terms with it and offer forgiveness. This book is a great read for those who want an insight into the life of other teenagers struggling with the same things that they are. The book has the ability to deeply move one’s emotions, which is not an easy feat. I personally was moved which is what make The Perks of Being a Wallflower a very good read.

   - Arielle

"We accept the love we think we deserve."

         Brilliantly written by Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower explores the human search for identity through love, depression, frustration, and pure solitude. The book is a classic novel suited to the interest of teenagers because it does, in fact, touch on many subjects that high school students have to face every day. I don’t think one high school student can actually honestly say they have not become directly or indirectly involved with drugs, sex, and drinking. In some way every person above elementary school can appreciate and understand everything the novel relates. It’s almost unreal that one person is able to go through so much in just one year, but then again it is high school we are talking about so anything can happen.

            The novel is made up of a series of short letters from the narrator, Charlie, written to an anonymous reader describing his transformation from being merely a standby observer to a full participant in varies activities and scandals surrounding his freshman year of high school. Beginning with the experience of the death of a friend, Charlie later reveals the emotional experience of losing his deeply loved Aunt Helen and how it marked himself as being “pretty emotional.” Constantly emphasizing the feeling of being “infinite,” Charlie points out emotional truths such as “We accept the love we think we deserve” and “ Maybe it's good to put things in perspective. Sometimes, I think that the only perspective is to really be there.” Charlie reminds us that life is complicated and it’s a struggle everyday, but somehow we have to find ways to deal with it. Charlie makes friends with an unusual group of people where he is given direct insight to a world he has never seen before. His closest friends Sam and Patrick open up Charlie to the consuming seduction of drugs, drinking, teenage sexuality and, of course, the Rocky Horror Picture Show.

            From the pure simplicity of the sentence structure and words, this book will be a favorite of any type of person whether they don’t read at all or have read every book in the public library. I would definitely recommend this book even to those who haven’t read a complete book since the 5th. I found many insights because all the ideas are presented from an unbiased perspective of someone who is just trying to find meaning in life. Overall, the unique book will quickly draw any reader in with its fun composition and roller coaster plot line filled with all emotions.

   - Kristen P.

"The constant struggle between passivity and passion is portrayed in Charlie's letters."

        The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky provides an in-depth look of what it is like to grow up in high school. While the sex, drugs, and teen angst may all seem a little cliché, Chbosky does an amazing job of realistically portraying high school situations in a uniquely hilarious way through the protagonist Charlie. The story is told through Charlie's devastating letters to someone not identified to the reader. The theme woven through Charlie's letters is his constant struggle between passivity and passion. Letter by letter, the reader is drawn into Charlie's fanatical world only to be in awe at the story's end.

                The story begins with Charlie's freshman year in high school where he is prone to depression, shy, introverted, and "on the fringes of life" after dealing with the losses of a friend and his Aunt Helen. He is a wallflower, someone intelligent beyond his years but socially awkward. Some of the few people to notice Charlie's intelligence are his English teacher and newfound senior friends Sam and Patrick. With their help Charlie comes to terms with life and learns to interact. The plot unfolds as Charlie learns to deal with almost every tough issue known to a teen. Chbosky handles these tragic issues so well that they come off as realistic rather than over-the-top. This realism is why I believe The Perks of Being a Wallflower is such a special book.

                Chbosky further develops the theme of Charlie's struggle between passivity and passion through the constant pressures he must face in his freshman year in high school. Whether it is dances, first dates, drugs, sexuality, or the Rocky Horror Picture Show, Charlie is relentlessly barraged with the task of eliminating his social awkwardness. Chbosky's realistic style leaves an impact on the reader by placing him or her into Charlie's world. There the reader gets an up close and personal view of each developing situation and becomes attached to the ups and downs associated with Charlie's life. Charlie's relationship with his teacher Bill also parallels one of the major themes of the novel - the clash between young adult and adult culture. While Charlie is trying to identify himself as a man, he continuously finds himself running away from his life and reverting back to a childlike state. Bill acts as an intermediate force between these clashing worlds and tries to get Charlie to lead a normal high school life and further provide an identity for Charlie. Bill helps Charlie get his mind off the things Charlie is running away from through books and essay writing.

               In my opinion, Perks of Being a Wallflower is an amazing book that should be read by all high school students. Chbosky offers humor, drama, and a unique quality to the story that keeps the reader turning pages. The novel is truly an entertaining read and I would recommend it to anyone who has experienced the highs and lows of high school.