The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

“‘I feel infinite.’
And Sam and Patrick looked at me like I said the greatest thing they ever heard.  Because the song was that great and because we all really paid attention to it.  Five minutes of a lifetime were truly spent, and we felt young in a good way.  I have since bought the record, and I would tell you what it is, but truthfully, it’s not the same unless you’re driving to your first real party, and you’re sitting in the middle seat of a pickup with two nice people when it starts to rain.”

Well, I told you that I’d be taking a YA Lit class this semester, so that explains the heavy dose of teenage-friendly books on the site recently.  This book is an epistolary novel-one that is composed of letters, rather than written out in traditional form.  The letters are from Charlie, a shy, rather awkward freshman in Pittsburgh, around the early 90s.  Charlie chooses a random person out of the phone book, and begins writing letters.  They have a confessional tone to them: Charlie discusses music, friends, and heavy issues like drug use, abortion,  death and questions about homosexuality.

Charlie befriends a step-brother and sister team, Sam and Patrick, and together they go to parties, listen to music, talk about life, and navigate the trials of youth.  Charlie’s older brother is away at university on a football scholarship, and his older sister is a senior in high school.  Throughout the novel, Charlie’s English teacher assigns him extra books to read, such as Catcher in the Rye and The Great Gatsby. Charlie claims that all of the books are his favorites, and I really like the way the references to the other books give depth to Charlie’s character. 

I have never been a fan of the epistolary form, but Charlie’s endearingly frank voice won me over.  His observations are an adorable combination of naive curiosity and straightforward, heart-rending comments on loss, grief, and abuse.

This isn’t my favorite book, but Charlie really has an appealing voice, and it reads quickly, so I don’t want to dis-recommend it, either!

The aforementioned YA lit class?  I’m in the university library now, and if I don’t stop writing, I’ll be late to it!

Happy reading!

Publisher’s Website:

Chbosky, Stephen.  The Perks of Being a Wallflower. MTV: New York. 1999. 213 pp. Paperback.  ISBN: 978-0671027346

If you liked this book, I think you’ll also like Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, or Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher.

7 thoughts on “The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

    1. Well, it’s not so much that I didn’t like it-Charlie is a really appealing character. I just found all the music and pop culture references to date the story. They sort of glue it in the past, and for young adults today, it might be difficult to move past it. I really did like Charlie’s voice, though.

  1. When I originally commented I clicked the “Notify me when new comments are added” checkbox and now each time a comment is added I get several emails with the
    same comment. Is there any way you can remove people from that service?

    Many thanks!

    1. I’m sorry your emails have been intrusive! If you go to and click on the Reader tab, next to “Blogs I Follow” are the words “Edit List”. Click on that, and you can uncheck the option for following comments. Thanks for reading the blog!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s