The Perks of Being a Wallflower
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

4.6 3053
by Stephen Chbosky

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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

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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.

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Editorial Reviews

Denise Kersten
The Perks of Being a Wallflower is part of an MTV Books series that targets teen-age readers. But it is more mature than most young adult literature and can be enjoyed by older readers as well.
USA Today
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A trite coming-of-age novel that could easily appeal to a YA readership, filmmaker Chbosky's debut broadcasts its intentions with the publisher's announcement that ads will run on MTV. Charlie, the wallflower of the title, goes through a veritable bath of bathos in his 10th grade year, 1991. The novel is formatted as a series of letters to an unnamed "friend," the first of which reveals the suicide of Charlie's pal Michael. Charlie's response — valid enough — is to cry. The crying soon gets out of hand, though — in subsequent letters, his father, his aunt, his sister and his sister's boyfriend all become lachrymose. Charlie has the usual dire adolescent problems — sex, drugs, the thuggish football team — and they perplex him in the usual teen TV ways. He hangs out with a group of seniors, among whom are Patrick and Samantha. Patrick is gay, and Charlie learns about gay. Sam is pretty, and Charlie learns about heartbreak. Sam is, alas, going out with Craig. Charlie goes out with the uppity Mary Elizabeth. Patrick goes with Brad but breaks up with him when Brad's father discovers their relationship. Into these standard teenage issues Chbosky infuses a droning insistence on Charlie's supersensitive disposition. Charlie's English teacher and others have a disconcerting tendency to rhapsodize over Charlie's giftedness, which seems to consist of Charlie's unquestioning assimilation of the teacher's taste in books. In the end we learn the root of Charlie's psychological problems, and we confront, with him, the coming rigors of 11th grade, ever hopeful that he'll find a suitable girlfriend and increase his vocabulary.
School Library Journal
Gr 9 UpAn epistolary narrative cleverly places readers in the role of recipients of Charlies unfolding story of his freshman year in high school. From the beginning, Charlies identity as an outsider is credibly established. It was in the spring of the previous school year that his best friend committed suicide and now that his class has gone through a summer of change, the boy finds that he has drifted away from old friends. He finds a new and satisfying social set, however, made up of several high school seniors, bright bohemians with ego-bruising insights and, really, hearts of gold. These new friends make more sense to Charlie than his star football-playing older brother ever did and they are able to teach him about the realities of life that his older sister doesnt have the time to share with him. Grounded in a specific time (the 1991/92 academic year) and place (western Pennsylvania), Charlie, his friends, and family are palpably real. His grandfather is an embarrassing bigot; his new best friend is gay; his sister must resolve her pregnancy without her boyfriends support. Charlie develops from an observant wallflower into his own man of action, and, with the help of a therapist, he begins to face the sexual abuse he had experienced as a child. This report on his life will engage teen readers for years to come.Francisca Goldsmith, Berkeley Public Library, CA Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Aspiring filmmaker/first-novelist Chbosky adds an upbeat ending to a tale of teenaged angst-the right combination of realism and uplift to allow it on high school reading lists, though some might object to the sexuality, drinking, and dope-smoking. More sophisticated readers might object to the rip-off of Salinger, though Chbosky pays homage by having his protagonist read Catcher in the Rye.

Like Holden, Charlie oozes sincerity, rails against celebrity phoniness, and feels an extraliterary bond with his favorite writers (Harper Lee, Fitzgerald, Kerouac, Ayn Rand, etc.). But Charlie's no rich kid: the third child in a middle-class family, he attends public school in western Pennsylvania, has an older brother who plays football at Penn State, and an older sister who worries about boys a lot. An epistolary novel addressed to an anonymous "friend," Charlie's letters cover his first year in high school, a time haunted by the recent suicide of his best friend. Always quick to shed tears, Charlie also feels guilty about the death of his Aunt Helen, a troubled woman who lived with Charlie's family at the time of her fatal car wreck. Though he begins as a friendless observer, Charlie is soon pals with seniors Patrick and Sam (for Samantha), stepsiblings who include Charlie in their circle, where he smokes pot for the first time, drops acid, and falls madly in love with the inaccessible Sam. His first relationship ends miserably because Charlie remains compulsively honest, though he proves a loyal friend (to Patrick when he's gay-bashed) and brother (when his sister needs an abortion). Depressed when all his friends prepare for college, Charlie has a catatonic breakdown, whichresolves itself neatly and reveals a long-repressed truth about Aunt Helen.

A plain-written narrative suggesting that passivity, and thinking too much, lead to confusion and anxiety. Perhaps the folks at (co-publisher) MTV see the synergy here with Daria or any number of videos by the sensitive singer-songwriters they feature.

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Product Details

MTV Books
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1 MB
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

From Part One

August 25, 1991

Dear friend,

I am writing to you because she said you listen and understand and didn't try to sleep with that person at that party even though you could have. Please don't try to figure out who she is because then you might figure out who I am, and I really don't want you to do that. I will call people by different names or generic names because I don't want you to find me. I didn't enclose a return address for the same reason. I mean nothing bad by this. Honest.

I just need to know that someone out there listens and understands and doesn't try to sleep with people even if they could have. I need to know that these people exist.

I think you of all people would understand that because I think you of all people are alive and appreciate what that means. At least I hope you do because other people look to you for strength and friendship and it's that simple. At least that's what I've heard.

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.

I try to think of my family as a reason for me being this way, especially after my friend Michael stopped going to school one day last spring and we heard Mr. Vaughn's voice on the loudspeaker.

"Boys and girls, I regret to inform you that one of our students has passed on. We will hold a memorial service for Michael Dobson during assembly this Friday."

I don't know how news travels around school and why it is very often right. Maybe it was in the lunchroom. It's hard to remember. But Dave with the awkward glasses told us that Michael killed himself. His mom played bridge with one of Michael's neighbors and they hear said that he suspected that Michael had "problems at home" and didn't feel like he had anyone to talk to. That's maybe why he felt all alone and killed himself.

Then, I started screaming at the guidance counselor that Michael could have talked to me. And I started crying even harder. He tried to calm me down by saying that he meant an adult like a teacher or a guidance counselor. But it didn't work and eventually my brother came by the middle school in his Camaro to pick me up.

For the rest of the school year, the teachers treated me different and gave me better grades even though I didn't get any smarter. To tell you the truth, I think I made them all nervous.

Michael's funeral was strange because his father didn't cry. And three months later he left Michael's mom. At least according to Dave at lunchtime. I think about it sometimes. I wonder what went on in Michael's house around dinner and TV shows. Michael never left a note or at least his parents didn't let anyone see it. Maybe it was "problems at home." I wish I knew. It might make me miss him more clearly. It might have made sad sense.

One thing I do know is that it makes me wonder if I have "problems at home" but it seems to me that a lot of other people have it a lot worse. Like when my sister's first boyfriend started going around with another girl and my sister cried for the whole weekend.

My dad said, "There are other people who have it a lot worse."

And my mom was quiet. And that was that. A month later, my sister met another boy and started playing happy records again. And my dad kept working. And my mom kept sweeping. And my brother kept fixing his Camaro. That is, until he left for college at the beginning of the summer. He's playing football for Penn State but he needed the summer to get his grades right to play football.

I don't think that there is a favorite kid in our family. There are three of us and I am the youngest. My brother is the oldest. He is a very good football player and likes his car. My sister is very pretty and mean to boys and she is in the middle. I get straight A's now like my sister and that is why they leave me alone.

My mom cries a lot during TV programs. My dad works a lot and is an honest man. My Aunt Helen used to say that my dad was going to be too proud to have a midlife crisis. It took me until around now to understand what she meant by that because he just turned forty and nothing has changed.

My Aunt Helen was my favorite person in the whole world. She was my mom's sister. She got straight A's when she was a teenager and she used to give me books to read. My father said that the books were a little too old for me, but I liked them so he just shrugged and let me read.

My Aunt Helen lived with the family for the last few years of her life because something very bad happened to her. Nobody would tell me what happened then even though I always wanted to know. When I was around seven, I stopped asking about it because I kept asking like kids always do and my Aunt Helen started crying very hard.

That's when my dad slapped me, saying, "You're hurting your aunt Helen's feelings!" I didn't want to do that, so I stopped. Aunt Helen told my father not to hit me in front of her ever again and my father said this was his house and he would do what he wanted and my mom was quiet and so were my brother and sister.

I don't remember much more than that because I started crying really har d and after a while my dad had my mom take me to my room. It wasn't until much later that my mom had a few glasses of white wine and told me what happened to her sister. Some people really do have it a lot worse than I do. They really do.

I should probably go to sleep now. It's very late. I don't know why I wrote a lot of this down for you to read. The reason I wrote this letter is because I start high school tomorrow and I am really afraid of going.

Love always,

September 7, 1991

Dear friend,

I do not like high school. The cafeteria is called the "Nutrition Center," which is strange. There is this one girl in my advanced english class named Susan. In middle school, Susan was very fun to be around. She liked movies, and her brother Frank made her tapes of this great music that she shared with us. But over the summer she had her braces taken off, and she got a little taller and prettier and grew breasts. Now, she acts a lot dumber in the hallways, especially when boys are around. And I think it's sad because Susan doesn't look as happy. To tell you the truth, she doesn't like to admit she's in the advanced english class, and she doesn't like to say "hi" to me in the hall anymore.

When Susan was at the guidance counselor meeting about Michael, she said that Michael once told her that she was the prettiest girl in the whole world, braces and all. Then, he asked her to "go with him," which was a big deal at any school. They call it "going out" in high school. And they kissed and talked about movies, and she missed him terribly because he was her best friend.

It's funny, too, because boys and girls normally weren't best friends around my school. But Michael and Susan were. Ki nd of like my Aunt Helen and me. I'm sorry. "My Aunt Helen and I." That's one thing I learned this week. That and more consistent punctuation.

I keep quiet most of the time, and only one kid named Sean really seemed to notice me. He waited for me after gym class and said really immature things like how he was going to give me a "swirlie," which is where someone sticks your head in the toilet and flushes to make your hair swirl around. He seemed pretty unhappy as well, and I told him so. Then, he got mad and started hitting me, and I just did the things my brother taught me to do. My brother is a very good fighter.

"Go for the knees, throat, and eyes."

And I did. And I really hurt Sean. And then I started crying. And my sister had to leave her senior honors class and drive me home. I got called to Mr. Small's office, but I didn't get suspended or anything because a kid told Mr. Small the truth about the fight.

"Sean started it. It was self-defense."

And it was. I just don't understand why Sean wanted to hurt me. I didn't do anything to him. I am very small. That's true. But I guess Sean didn't know I could fight. The truth is I could have hurt him a lot worse. And maybe I should have. I thought I might have to if he came after the kid who told Mr. Small the truth, but Sean never did go after him. So, everything was forgotten.

Some kids look at me strange in the hallways because I don't decorate my locker, and I'm the one who beat up Sean and couldn't stop crying after he did it. I guess I'm pretty emotional.

It has been very lonely because my sister is busy being the oldest one in our family. My brother is busy being a football player at Penn State. After the training camp, his coach sa id that he was second string and that when he starts learning the system, he will be first string.

My dad really hopes he will make it to the pros and play for the Steelers. My mom is just glad he gets to go to college for free because my sister doesn't play football, and there wouldn't be enough money to send both of them. That's why she wants me to keep working hard, so I'll get an academic scholarship.

So, that's what I'm doing until I meet a friend here. I was hoping that the kid who told the truth could become a friend of mine, but I think he was just being a good guy by telling.

Love always,

Copyright © 1999 by Stephen Chbosky

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The Perks of Being a Wallflower 4.6 out of 5 based on 4 ratings. 3053 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I would give you a summary of this fantastic book, but I don't want to give too much away. It's basically about a boy and his first year in high school. That's the one thing young readers need to watch out for because (I'm sorry to say) high school isn't exactly... uhmm... appropriate all the time, as shown in this book. The Perks of Being a Wallflower has very deep, easy to connect with characters and a plot that won't let you put the book down. Because of it's high school setting I wouldn't recommend this book for people under 13, but if you think you can handle the story without your parents flipping out too much, than go for it, cause this book will leave you with 100 hundred that aren't even yours. There are parts where you WILL cry (I guarantee it), parts where you will want to scream at the top of your lungs and not care who stares at you, and parts that will throw a smile on your face....not PUT a smile on ur face but that smile will THROW itself there. Pick up this book and read it NOW!!
TheAuthorChick More than 1 year ago
It's difficult to express how I feel about this book in a typed review. In my head, I can, but it's hard to put together on a keyboard. I can say that I loved everything about it, but it feels like an understatement. I felt like I was a wallflower in Charlie's life, rather than Charlie being the wallflower in Sam and Patrick's. Toward the end of the book, I had a hard time convincing myself that I wasn't a part of this misfit group of Charlie's friends. This book made me cry. Hard. Not only because it was sad, but because it made me care. It's impossible not to care. Its heartbreaking yet simultaneously uplifting finale is the cherry on top of this slice of Charlie's life. Everything about this book, I love. But it's still a vast understatement.
ive_got_a_theory More than 1 year ago
The Perks of Being a Wallflower takes you through the life of an amazing child. A bright young man growing up observing and watching, always writing letters to a person he merely saw at a party. This book will take you on a journey you won't soon forget. I definitely recommend this book to anyone who can read. Chbosky has a talent for capturing your attention and then earning it with his wonderful characters and story line. A MUST read!!!
Mirandaaa More than 1 year ago
i LOVED this book, But what I loved most was Charlie. I understood him and where he was coming from I related to this book SO much which is probably why i liked it so much. My best-friend gave it too me and said "Here read this, i'm possitive you'll like it, it reminded me of you in ways." So i gave it a try and i loved it. i couldn't put it down! (: Read it, i'm sure you'll love it too! it'll make you feel.......infinate<3
theReader278 More than 1 year ago
I loved reading this wonderful book! It is a story that keeps you entertained for hours.
CatieCat75 More than 1 year ago
"The Perks of Being a Wallflower" was among the most beautifully written and touching books I have ever read. Though you never learn the true names of the characters and the anonymous person to whom Charlie (the main character) is writing to, the reader is still left with a satisfied feeling. I loved every minute of this book and found myself crying with Charlie and laughing at the moments in this book I have expirienced and can relate to. This is a must read for anyone.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
In honor of Charlie, I should read this book twice. This book never left my side.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I've read this book many times over the years, and recently bought it for a girl I know for her 15th b-day. It is actually good to read at any age, but as it is a "coming of age" story, teenagers in particular can enjoy it. I would highly recommend it to anyone who hasn't read it.
sand7s More than 1 year ago
Very interesting and entertaining. Very good book. finished it very quickly
MrPotter07 More than 1 year ago
Why is it that "good" books for teens are always so heavy? This is a book that contains themes of suicide, depression, abortion, etc. Even though it was so dark and dreary, I did like it. It had an interesting format that I've never seen before that really helped to draw the reader in and feel part of the story. Charlie, the hero, was a WONDERFUL character. He is so unique and loveable. You just want to be his friend. I'm glad that I read it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read all the time and it is so rare that a book i read makes me feel so much. I can relate to this book so well considering i just compleated my first year of high school just like Charlie. This book is so real and so beautiful. At points Charlies life gets so terrible that you want to crawl on your bed and hold yourself in hopes that if you feel better, Charlie will too. And then there are the parts where this book plasters a smile onto your face. It reveals the true feelings of a teenager and the heartaches of high school. This isn't a book where everything turns out right, because this book is real, and in real life things sometimes dont turn out how we would like it. I loved this book and i thank the author for writing it because it made me feel for Charlie and it changed my perspective on high school.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is beautiful. It makes you laugh, tear up, it makes you feel happy, sad, confused. It really makes you think. Everyone should read this book at least once. This is a great story about a kid experiencing high school, friends, tragedy, drugs, sex. it's just great, read it you won't regret it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is my all time favorite book. I learned so much about life and learned how to view it differently. I've read this book about 15 times and each time I read it I feel like I learn something new. I've highlighted sentences, paragraphs, and even pages that I relate to and I pass it around to my friends and they do the same. I encourage everyone to read it, it will open your eyes.
pineconie More than 1 year ago
I've loved this book for years, i lost my copy in a move and bought the ebook so i couldn't lose it again. there is so much that he is able to say in just a few words but those words go right to your heart and take ahold. The main character transcends gender lines to grasp each person who reads his story and you feel as though a mirror is being held up to that part of you that you've always wanted to understand but never quite did before. This book is superb and i've given it as gifts and re-read it yearly. It's an interesting and quick read but you'll learn what it means to feel infinite!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
You get sucked into Charlie's life and you can relate to how he feels and some of the things he does. He's strange and relatable all at the same time. It will either completely go over your head or it'll seep in and make you think. I highly recommend this book but for a more mature reader.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have purchased this book, given it to friends, and repurchased it several times. I just feel like I always need to have a copy. I have reread it every time I need to feel what freshmnan year of highschool was all about. For better or worse this book dredges up the actual physical feelings of high school.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Omg i love this book it keeps you entertaned for hours i keep reading it over n over really awesome book <3 IT LOVE IT LOVE IT
alexhernandezyo More than 1 year ago
Because of good reviews, I decided to read this. I usually don't like books about high school and drugs and sex and stuff but this was a very entertaining book. You really fall in love with charlie and wish he was your best friend. Reading from charlie's perspective is very interesting. I was hooked to this book. I recommend it for anyone. it was really good.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
i absolutly hate reading but i loved this book it reall kept my attention. the book actually related to me so i understood it alot better than the books we have to read in school. i really liked how it was written in letters so i could put the book down and understand it when i picked it back up later. the perks of being a wall flower had a great story and message and it was an easy read. i would deffinatly recomend it to my friends.
xnemo More than 1 year ago
The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a great book that holds a deep meaning. A comedy about friendships, influences and grief coming from the point of view from an outcast . Recommended for all young adults. This Page turner makes you want to read it over again. Four thumbs way up!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I just loved reading this book! And everyone who likes reading books that mess with your emotions should read it 100 percent! Putting this book down was super hard! This book had me in tears. Made me burst out laughing and brought a smile to my face. This book made me so angry I wanted to scream and so happy I wanted to dance. Its truly fantastic. Charlie is a character like no other and you get attached to him so easily. It was a shame when I ended the book. Because I wanted it to go on. And never end. I wanted to grow with Charlie. I recommend this to anyone who has a heart!??
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Perks of Being a Wallflower is an insightful look into the life of Charlie through letters. Charlie writes anonymously to someone who we also do not know, all we know about the characters is that they all attend the same high school. Charlie is a wallflower, he sees and notices everything, everyone, but no one notices him. That is until he meets Sam and Craig, the step-siblings who show Charlie a new side of life. As Charlie falls in love with Sam he realizes what true love means. Craig who is homosexual finds how love hurts when his boyfriend, the captain of the football team, pulls away from Craig in fear of being outed. Throughout the story you follow Charlie's inner most thoughts on everything in his life and I recommend this book to everyone I know because it is simply and incredibly insightful novel that will connect on some level with everyone.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this book when I was in high school that was more then 10 years ago. But I loves it then so much that I gave it to my little brother who was going in to high school. It is such a good book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book had me all in since the first page. It was very well writen and the author captured what it is like being an akward yet intelligent young man. I reccommend this book to anyone over13 because there was some scenes that were intense and not for younf readers. But if u think ur ready u will really enjoy wachting Charlie and his heaert capturing life.
likeforsure More than 1 year ago
I'm always looking for a good book to read and I came across this one online.I read what it was about and then I read the reviews to it,I thought it would be a crappy book but it was pretty good.The book is about a teenager named charlie who has a hard time adjusting to life after his aunt dies.So since he can't talk about his feelings with his family he decides to write letters to an unknown person.It's also about the problems teenagers go through in High school, with their families and friends.Thrust me I wouldn't be wasting my time on writing a review for this book if it sucked.It's a definite buy.