The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Trigger Warning: This novel and review discuss the following: depression, suicide, self harm, rape, molestation, death, grief.

Goodreads Rating: 4 Stars


“So, this is my life. And I want you to know that I am both happy and sad, and still trying to figure out how that can be.”

I would have easily read this in a few hours if I had had the time to read this over the weekend. At a short 213 pages, The Perks of Being a Wallflower grabs your attention from the first page as main character Charlie writes letters to his unnamed friend.  Each letter, Charlie pours his heart out about his family, his friends, and the observations and tribulations of growing up.

Losing his best friend and his favorite aunt prior to his freshman year, Charlie enters high school as a bit of a spectacle. Anyone who knew him knew he was friends with the boy who committed suicide, isolating him, and those who didn’t know him didn’t acknowledge him. It was easy for Charlie to slip into the background, but his therapist recommended that he try to “participate”. So he decided to attend a football game, and there he befriends Patrick, a funny guy from his shop class, and Sam, Patrick’s half sister and the prettiest girl Charlie has ever met. The three become fast friends, and Charlie’s recount of their friendship is the saddest, sweetest thing I’ve ever read.

Chbosky creates such a charming, sweet, smart, etc etc character in Charlie, and yet allows Charlie’s voice to haunt and seep into the reader. The stories told in the letters from Charlie hold nothing back about friendship, deep admiration, depression, utter sadness, struggles with personal and sexual identity, relationships, and family bonds. It surprised me how much Chbosky packed into such a short novel. Each letter is told with so much emotion, and nearly each part of the novel made me want to hug Charlie more and more.  Of course, addressing the perks to being a wallflower- Charlie has this amazing ability to silently observe a situation, and think about it in both an emotional and analytical way. It’s why he’s able to connection certain songs to his friends and situations, and why he’s able to read a book and understand the story and the context behind the written work.

Reading The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a must. I know you could just skip the book and watch the movie, but I’ve seen the movie and the book is even more amazing. You’ll need to hug someone at the end, and you’ll feel all the feels, but I promise you’ll love it. It’ll be like hearing a sad, beautiful song on the radio exactly when you need to hear one.

“And in that moment, I swear we were infinite.”

Published: February, 1999

Publisher: MTV Books

TL/DR: The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky is young adult novel about a teen who struggles with the death of his aunt and their relationship, as well as the friendships he makes that help him face his grief.

Read it? YES! It’s an emotional roller coaster, but so worth it.

Recommend it? Absolutely.

Buy it? Yes! This is a backlist bestseller, so it’s easy to find a copy for your shelves.

Watch the movie? Definitely yes!!

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Categories: Book Review, Contemporary, Fiction, Young Adult

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2 replies

  1. I loved this book in high school! Definitely due for a re-read.


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