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The Perks of Being a Wallflower

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

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The Perks of Being a Wallflower

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  • High school

  • youth

  • Love

  • Friendship


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. This haunting novel about the dilemma of passivity vs. passion marks the stunning debut of a provocative new voice in contemporary fiction: The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

This is the story of what it's like to grow up in high school. More intimate than a diary, Charlie's letters are singular and unique, hilarious and devastating. We may not know where he lives. We may not know to whom he is writing. All we know is the world he shares. Caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it puts him on a strange course 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.

Through Charlie, Stephen Chbosky has created a deeply affecting coming-of-age story, a powerful novel that will spirit you back to those wild and poignant roller coaster days known as growing up.

Product Details
Author:Stephen Chbosky
Paperback:213 pages
Publisher:MTV Books
Publication Date:February 01, 1999
Product Length:5.0 inches
Product Width:0.5 inches
Product Height:7.0 inches
Product Weight:0.43 pounds
Package Length:6.97 inches
Package Width:5.0 inches
Package Height:0.28 inches
Package Weight:0.35 pounds
Average Customer Rating: based on 6453 reviews

Customer Reviews
Average Customer Review:4.5 ( 6453 customer reviews )
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

917 of 971 found the following review helpful:

5Startling, Gripping, and Absolutely Honest  Jun 30, 2000 By Emily
I read The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky, in April of my sophomore year at college. A friend lent it to me and I had read it within twelve hours. This book reaches inside of you and pulls everything to the surface. It is a beautiful and painful story about a 15 year old boy, Charlie, moving through his freshmen year of highschool. It is written in letter form to an unknown friend. Charlie is always completely honest, whether he is describing his first "beer" party where he witnessed a girl being raped by her boyfriend, or explaining masturbation and his excitement for this newfound "activity." Charlie is a wallflower who observes people and feels very deeply for the experiences occuring around him. His favorite Aunt Helen died in a car accident when he was six, and he holds himself accountable, and his best friend committed suicide a year before he began the letters. His English teacher realizes Charlie's potential and brilliance and asks him to try and participate, which Charlie agrees to do. He becomes friends with two seniors Patrick and Samantha and begins to experience dances, parties, the Rocky Horror Picture Show, pot, love, bad trips and sexuality. We feel exhilerated when Charlie describes his happy moments, and we are swallowed in pain when Charlie is overwhelmed by his depression. Charlie's realizations are eye opening for us, and we are so captivated and immersed in his life that his life and stories become a very real experience. This book is about moments, and being as much alive within each moment as possible. It is about looking around us at the world and the people and appreciating that we don't know what their lives are like, and the pain and happiness that they experience day to day, so we shouldn't judge them but accept them and appreciate them. A favorite section of this book, for me, was when Charlie describes the movie It's A Wonderful Life, and how he wished the movie had been about one of the less heroic characters so the audience could have seen the meaning that this person's life held. That moment is just one example of Charlie's amazing intuition. This book should not be limited to a certain "category" of people. I truly believe that it would be understood, appreciated, and loved by everyone aged 12 (+ or - a few) and up regardless of gender, race, sexuality, etc. This book changes you, if only for a moment, but you are not the same upon completion, and you become more appreciative of life then ever.

175 of 198 found the following review helpful:

5Going through the tunnel  Dec 07, 1999 By Michael Rogers
When I finished The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chybosky, I sat there in a stunned silence. The book was strongly powerful in a manner that diary or letter style books rarely achieve. There is usually a sense of implausibility in those types of books that Charlie's character completely negated. When trying to describe Charlie the mind suddenly reels, he's honest. Completely and utterly genuine in his perceptions and most of his actions. Charlie is also and emotional basket case that somehow manages to attract a special group of friends to him. A group of voluntary outcasts that go through the same problems teenagers face everywhere. Sex, drugs, relationships and acceptance figure heavily into everyone's lives, despite their personal beliefs on those subjects. I would like to mention Stephen's portrayal of Patrick, I was pleased to see the sbuject of homosexuality treated in such a plain manner. It was accepted as a fact and only the feelings invovled in the situations were important. I would recomment this book to a wide range of people, old or young, straight or gay, conservative or liberal. It was a pleasure to read and I enjoyed it immensely.

120 of 139 found the following review helpful:

5Bought it for my teenager, read it myself in one sitting  Jul 13, 2001 By 30acrewood
I bought this book for my 13 year old daughter but wanted to read it first to see if it is appropriate It is a wonderfully written book in which Charlie, a deeply sensitive boy, finds true friends and learns to live, to love, to lose, and move on. The author gives this boy a voice and it's magnificent. I so appreciate Charlie's depth of emotions. I have a sensitive, emotional son and will want him to read this book in a couple years. Suicide, homosexuality, infatuation, deep deep friendships, finding yourself and re-finding yourself are all themes in this book. The author captures "moments" of adolescence -- those incredible high moments that might last just minutes -- and makes them so real. If only more kids could put a voice to these feelings. One reviewer doesn't think this book captures adolescence in the 90's -- I don't know because I'm a Mom . . . but I don't care. Charlie deals with drugs, smoking, drinking, messing up friendships, feeling alone, and uncovers family problems he has to deal with. And he deals with it as a young man who can stand back, look at it all, and make decisions about what he has experienced. I want my daughter to read it, maybe now or maybe in a couple years, for the hope it left me with. Charlie survived being hopelessly in love with one of his best friends. It hurt and he felt it and it didn't defeat him. With everything thrown at kids in jr. high and high school this book might just help them survive it a little more intact. I think I'm going to go talk to my kids right now . . . .

21 of 26 found the following review helpful:

2Catcher in the Rye it is not  Dec 29, 2011 By BMD
I was excited to begin The Perks of Being a Wallflower because, well--I was a wallflower. It also peaked my interest because one of my favorite books is Catcher in the Rye and anytime a book is compared to it, I have to quickly and furiously read it because I am a) mad that anything could be compared to Catcher (kidding!) and b) extremely curious, hoping for a new favorite book.

Well. It failed on both accounts. It is only like The Catcher in the Rye in that Catcher is clearly the author's favorite book. It read like fan fiction for Catcher in the Rye, as perhaps some sort of sappy, unconvincing prequel. This kind of disgusted me. I could picture the author pacing his "writing room" which would consist of a few novels like The Catcher in the Rye, David Copperfield (which he has never read, guaranteed) and a copy of Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul III. Then he'd snap his fingers and proclaim in a hearty voice: "I've got it! I'm going to write an angsty, coming-of-age tale. And PEOPLE WILL RELATE."

So, he decided to incorporate the basics: teenage suicide (in which the narrator never really seems to care that much about); a loner (who for the love of God is not even a loner or a wallflower... he seems just fine with making friends to me; he's actually very often the center of attention), a crush on an extremely pretty, unobtainable, perfect Senior; this same Senior's gay step-brother; a dysfunctional family; a sister who gets pregnant and has an abortion (which is only mentioned when it is actually happening and never... ever... again); oh, and this same sister also has Daddy issues and gets hit by her boyfriend; remember GayBrother? He has an affair with the football quarterback who is secretly gay (apparently all football players have a hidden penis-fetish)... Basically, think of everything that didn't happen to you in high school, but did happen on Degrassi and you will have The Perks of Being a Socially Awkward but Extremely Loveable Teenager who is Easily Accepted by the Underrated-but-Coolest People in High School.

When I first started reading this, I though that the narrator suffered from a severe mental illness. Something like autism. Which would totally be fine if that's what it was about¸ but I'm afraid not. In fact, it's kind of about the opposite: Charlie, our faithful (?) narrator, is actually somewhat of a child prodigy. I'm not sure when this happened because I thought he actually quite sucked at the English language and forming a basic, non run-on sentence. Maybe this is why I'm not a teacher. In any case, I was surprised to learn that he was not mentally handicapped.

Of course, we do learn later that he was molested by his aunt (which was not a surprise, by the way... more like just another eye-rolling inducing moment). And I'm sure this would severely mess a person up. But not in the way it's portrayed in the book. Being molested wouldn't make you extremely smart at reading and understanding books and yet unable to write a decent letter. I CANNOT RELATE, CHBOSKY.

I mean, this book wasn't absolutely terrible or anything. There were some lovely observations in it. But I don't think I could recommend it.

9 of 10 found the following review helpful:

3The perks and drawbacks of this book...  Jan 15, 2005 By Alicja Z.
This is the toughest review that I have ever written. This book has many perks that make it a good bathtub read (really, it can be easily finished under 4 hours) but at the same time there is a certain something missing that makes this book incomplete. The characters are interesting even though shallow to a certain degree. But in a weird way they are realisticaly shallow, meaning that like every other human being on this planet, they have moments where they think and act in an stupid manner without any meaningful way. Charlie sometimes shines with brilliance in his letters but at other times doesn't even think twice, for example when he tries LSD he doesn't say how he felt about it to begin with. Charlie is confused an naive. I have personally identified with that part of him because I myself spent my high school years confused and naive. What this book does is show one way to grow up. It shows that our lives are made complex by others and external events but most of all by ourselves. One thing that does not add up is that the protagonist is apparently a genius although his writing is sub-par. It is dry and missing the color that I would expect the writing of a freshman genius would be like. The story has been told many times and this author definitly has potential but he is missing something... maybe the story is missing a feeling that Charlie is alive. The writing style makes him too two-dimentional, the events are told marvelously and even though Charlie expresses his feelings they are missing a certain something, a certain desire, that human being generaly display.

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