Monday, 17 October 2011

The Perks Of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

The Perks of Being a Wallfower by Stephen Chbosky
First published by MTV Books in 1999 (this edition by Pocket Books in 2009)

Description (from Goodreads)
Charlie is a freshman. And while's he's not the biggest geek in the school, he is by no means popular. He's a wallflower--shy and introspective, and intelligent beyond his years, if not very savvy in the social arts. We learn about Charlie through the letters he writes to someone of undisclosed name, age, and gender, a stylistic technique that adds to the heart-wrenching earnestness saturating this teen's story. Charlie encounters the same struggles that many kids face in high school--how to make friends, the intensity of a crush, family tensions, a first relationship, exploring sexuality, experimenting with drugs--but he must also deal with his best friend's recent suicide. Charlie's letters take on the intimate feel of a journal as he shares his day-to-day thoughts and feelings.

My thoughts
The Perks of Being a Wallflower had been sitting in our bookshelf for a couple of years before I decided to finally read it. I remember that it was my brother who had wanted to buy it and read it straight away, and I am pretty sure I remember him telling me that it was a pretty amazing book. It's a rather small book, so I can only think of one reason to explain the fact that I didn't read it earlier: I forgot about it. But when my brother and I were re-organising our bookshelves so as to fit all our new books, I re-discovered it and decided to read it.

I will admit to not really remembering much about it, because of the fact that I read it more than a month ago (I have been very remiss in writing up my reviews not long after I read the book and now they've all seemed to pile up), but I am going to try my best.

In this book, we follow Charlie, who is a freshman in school and is also a bit of a wallflower (as the title suggests). On the back cover of the edition I read, there is a short description of Charlie; he's shy, introverted, intelligent, not very popular and socially awkward. To me he came across as a tiny bit weird, but mostly in an endearing way. We meet Charlie through the letters he writes to someone of unknown identity. In those, he changes everyone's names (in fear of recognition) by that person he sends them to and essentially catalogues all the events that take place within a given period of time; from the 25th August 1991 to the 23rd August 1992. Within that year, many changes take place, which either cause Charlie confusion or play an essential role in his becoming what he the end of the novel. The most important factor that influences the progress of this book is his friendship with Sam and Patrick, with his Aunt Helen also being an important presence throughout (directly or indirectly).

There were things in this book that I did not completely understand when I was reading them; what Chbosky was trying to say was not completely clear to me. (Which is probably why I will have to read this one again sometime in the not-too-distant future) But I do recognise that it is an extremely well written novel, with a main character who is engaging enough and self-deprecating enough to make you feel for him. Charlie did come across as a bit of a weirdo at times, because, try as I might, I couldn't understand what was going through his head some of the time. There are things going on in various parts in the novel that aren't explained properly at the time (probably so as to make the reader speculate as to what is happening), but it led to a slight confusion on my part. Especially regarding some of the Aunt-Helen parts.

All in all, The Perks of Being A Wallflower is a lovely coming-of-age story, with a rather endearing (though not always) character, who faces "real problems" and tells us about them in his own unique voice. Definitely a book that is worth reading and one that I am going to be re-reading myself soon, in hopes of understanding those parts that I missed the point of the first time.

Rating: 8/10

Stephen Chbosky grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and graduated from the University of Southern California's Filmic Writing Programme. He managed to win an award with his first film ("The Four Corners of Nowhere"). He has written screenplays, directed and co-produced a number of films. The Perks of Being A Wallflower is his first novel.
For more information about Stephen Chbosky, you can check him out on Wikipedia.

Read for the: 100 Books In A Year Challenge 2011


  1. This is weird. I picked this book up today in the library to read.
    Glad you enjoyed it :)

  2. This is a book that I want to read. Glad you liked it.


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