The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Book Information
Author: Stephen Chbosky
Publication Date: 1999
Number of pages: 231
Genre: Young Adult

Book Blurb

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, powerful novel that will spirit you back to those wild and poignant roller coaster days known as growing up.

Why was it banned (or challenged)?

 According to ALA, the book was challenged due to the following reasons: anti-family, drugs, homosexuality, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit, suicide, and unsuited to age group.

You can see a more detailed timeline here


I was already curious about this novel even before the movie came out. Being a wallflower myself at parties or even at simple social gatherings, the title really piqued my interest. So for the Banned Books Week celebration, I chose this book without any second thoughts. Thank you Shiela of Book Journey for hosting this event!

The Perks of Being a Wallflower (henceforth mentioned as “Perks”) is an epistolary novel of teen angst and love in the suburbs. The book deals with everything one can encounter in growing up: abuse, sibling catfights, drugs, sex, bullies, homosexuality and even suicide. Indeed these are rather sensitive topics, but Chbosky has written the book in such a way that  these issues are realistic, absolutely heartwarming and never overdone.

Charlie is brilliantly fleshed out as a character. His experiences are typical of a teenager (sans the mental illness), yet his reflections on mundane things are beautifully phrased. He is imperfect, his flaws are even prominently displayed. He is no hero. Yet I particularly love that Charlie is “real” all throughout the book. His innocence and naivete is somewhat both his strength and weakness. I can relate to Charlie a lot more than I thought I would. (I hope this does not make me too weird.) But in this book, I found myself grieving, laughing, and reminiscing with the characters in every page. Somehow I felt that every teenager has known a popular sister, a detached brother, a Patrick, a Mary Elizabeth, a Craig and a Sam. =)

I have read The Catcher in the Rye (finished) and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (halfway through); and though Chobsky’s writing style was reminiscent of both, I found that I love the Perks more. The Catcher in the Rye is a cult classic and I know Chobsky was actually inspired by it. Maybe I need to reread The Catcher in the Rye, yes?

This novel reminds me a bit of The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides. Both deals with the roller-coaster turmoils only adolescence can bring. The Lisbon sisters were fond of dreamy music from records too. However Eugenides' book ended with more questions than answers,  leaving the reader with the thought that there are mysteries we can't solve no matter what. Despite being somewhat almost as morbid, Perks instills a rather optimistic and refreshing perspective in the reader about love and life in general. As Charlie puts it, "So, I guess we are who we are for a lot of reasons. And maybe we'll never know most of them. But even if we don't have the power to choose where we come from, we can still choose where we go from there. We can still do things. And we can try to feel okay about them." 

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a lovely novel which anyone will enjoy. It’s just October but I think you would understand if I say this is undoubtedly the best book I've read for 2012.

Quotes I Love

Now, this is going to be very difficult. I read the book with Mobipocket reader (yes, for PC) and highlighted lines which I thought were brilliant as I went along. Soon enough I was highlighting whole conversations and even pages.  In short, my Ebook is now in a glaring shade of yellow and that’s saying something. 

I decided to just share these five:

"Not everyone has a sob story, Charlie, and even if they do, it's no excuse."

“I just think it's bad when a boy looks at a girl and thinks that the way he sees the girl is better than the girl actually is. And I think it's bad when the most honest way a boy can look at a girl is through a camera.”

"I would die for you. But I won't live for you. Something like that. I think the idea is that every person has to live for his or her own life and then make the choice to share it with other people. Maybe that is what makes people ‘participate’. I'm not really certain.”

“I feel like a big faker because I've been putting my life back together, and nobody knows.”

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

There you go. If you have read this gem already, what are your favorite lines from the book? Share it in the comments! =) If you still haven’t, get your copy ASAP and I hope I did not spoil the book for you. I really want to get the paperback edition soon. Ebook copies are okay, but I still prefer to have paperback/hardbound book favorites on my bookshelf. This is one of those books that urge you to reread them right after you have finished.

Incidentally, I jotted down every song which was mentioned (aside from the reading list, hehe). *goes off to make a mixed tape*

My Recommendation



  1. I have this towards the top of my TBR pile! This was a fabulous review and it makes me want to read it even more than I already do. I didn't know that was possible!

    1. Why, thank you! I' glad to know my review heightened your interest with the book. =) You won't regret reading this one!


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