The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky cover

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

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Synopsis: Charlie is a freshman. And while he's not the biggest geek in the school, he is by no means popular. Shy, introspective, intelligent beyond his years yet socially awkward, he is a wallflower, caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it. Charlie is attempting to navigate his way 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 to feel infinite. But Charlie can't stay on the sideline forever. 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. The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a deeply affecting coming-of-age story that will spirit you back to those wild and poignant roller-coaster days known as growing up.

Charlie is a shy, kind and loving 15 year old, discovering the many joys of life. But underneath, he knows he is different…with a push from his charming English teacher, Charlie is out to ‘participate’ and discover what it is like to stand high above the earth rather than clinging to the fringes of life, watching the world go past. The Perks of Being a Wallflower holds themes that are present in every 15 year old’s heart, from love to losing someone.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is Stephen Chbosky’s first novel. I stumbled across this touching book by accident, and immediately I was intrigued; because sometimes I myself feel like a ‘wallflower’, torn between wanting to be myself and wanting to fit in. It’s something that happens to most teenagers, regardless. It’s a very personal story that covers many many topics; from love and sex to depression and anger. I think many people connect with The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

I knew Perks was going to be a touching novel when I started it, but I don’t think I realised how touching it really would be. There are moments when it is sad, but there are also times when it is heartwarming, and powerful and emotional. This book is the first book that has ever made me cry: not because it is infinitely sad, but because it is so honest and beautiful. The Perks conveys in so many ways what it is like to stand apart from the crowd.

This brings me right on to the characters. In all honesty, I wouldn’t say that the characters were fantastically original- they aren’t. I don’t think that matters- the characters are there to be related to, and they do their job perfectly. I loved the characters because of this: I could relate to then because I knew someone just like him, and if I didn’t, it felt like a knew them because I wanted to know someone just like her. What makes the book is not the story or the writing.  It is the characters. If I could not relate and live the characters, I’m sure this book would have been a plod. But I can, and they are so likeable.

I only have one complaint about this book. My complaint is this: that the situations are far to unrealistic. The goings on seem to be incredible unrealistic. It’s obvious that things wouldn’t happen like that. It seems like Chbosky wrote all the things that could happen in a lifetime into a single year. Everything else, however more than makes up for this, and particularly towards the end, it is not do much a problem.

The writing style is absolutely magnificent. Chbosky has done really well writing in the style of a 15 year old writing letters, and he has captured the essence of the teenage years pretty darn well. The actual prose is beautiful, and is fantastic to read. Never is there a moment when you think that a certain sentence or paragraph sounds wrong, or seems rushed. It all seems to be written with gentle and loving care, and this is obvious all the way through.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a touching and lovingly written novel that is sure to have a space in many people’s hearts. Full of themes and questions that teens ask themselves, this is a delightful book that I’m sure many will love. Not only is it a beautiful albeit sad story, but it also hosts a range of characters that many will treasure. The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a solid debut novel that only has one or two downsides.

About Rhys

Rhys is a 19 year old with roots in the UK and Germany. Aside from reading and blogging, he also produces theatre, loves Kate Bush and hopes to pursue a career in publishing. His reviews have been widely quoted in books such as Philip Reeve’s Mortal Engines Quartet, Catherine Bruton’s Pop!, James Treadwell’s Advent and Anarchy and he has presented at such events as Book Expo America.

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