Perks of being a wallflowerTitle : The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Author : Stephen Chbosky

ISBN-10: 1451696191

ISBN-13 : 978-1451696196

Paperback : 224 pages

The Plot :

The Perks of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky is a coming of age novel about a 15 year old boy called Charlie. The entire book is written as a collection of multiple letters (Epistolary) that Charlie writes to an anonymous receiver. In these letters Charlie writes all about his day/week and you get to live his freshman year with him through his letters. A couple of months before the letters begin Charlie’s best friend Michael, commits suicide. He is also diagnosed with some mental issues (most probably schizophrenia). Another incident that occurs before the letters start, but have a major impact throughout the book on Charlie, is the fatal accident that his Aunt Helen has on his seventh birthday.

Charlie is a shy, unpopular and ‘weird’ kid amongst his peers. He is socially awkward and is far more intelligent as compared to the people his age. He is very observant and thinks quietly about things and so is the ‘wallflower’ from the title.

As his freshman year starts he makes friends with two seniors, Sam and Patrick, who are step brother and sister to each other.  They have their own pasts and could be considered different from the rest as well. Sam has a dark past, where she was very promiscuous and Patrick is hiding an affair with the high school quarterback. This friendship is what helps Charlie throughout his freshman year. Sam and Patrick introduce him to their friends, the other misfits. He forms close relationships with them but is the closest to Sam and Patrick. Another important character in the book is Charlie’s English Teacher, Bill, who sees how special Charlie is and introduces him to a lot of books and tries to teach him various life lessons through them.

He experiences a lot of firsts with this group of people and navigates through life as a high school freshman. He has determined to ‘participate’ more this year and thus takes up the opportunities when he gets invited to his first high school party, tries alcohol, smoking, drugs, kissing, high school dances, dating, sex etc. His one constant in all this is his letter writing, where he talks about what is going on in his head and how he interprets things. With a very different and innocent way of thinking he forms a bond with the reader. He is very happy to have made friends this year because he feels like his family doesn’t understand him, and the only one who really understood him was his Aunt Helen but she is no more.

The books follows a series of events where you find Charlie is learning different things and how he makes a mess of the situations because he is just not used to social situations. Soon his friends are leaving for college and disturbing memories of his Aunt Helen molesting him before she died push him over the edge. But with the help of friends and family he recovers and figures out a way to remain happy.

Even though the subject of the book has dark undertones, it ends with a positive and hopeful note. What drew me to the books was the way the author portrays the innocence of Charlie. The way he thinks about situations and the way he reacts to them are so different and many times makes you chuckle silently. It gives you hope that however weird or different you may be there is a group of equally weird people around where you will feel at home. I also got a list of books to read from the reading list Bill prescribes Charlie. Overall a good read.


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