Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky – 8/10

Ever felt unaccepted? Experienced conflict with friends? Felt broken beyond repair? While the turns of life cause unexpected predicaments, the narrator, Charlie, manages to encounter every one of these problems and more. This makes the book eventful, but it also means it is incredibly relatable to anyone who’s experienced struggle of adolescence.  I think that this book is relevant to so many audiences, that there is no need to specify one particular group it is suited for. Charlie’s narration accurately follows themes of jealousy, heartbreak, and social anxiety. These obstacles affect every person at some point in their life and are essentially requirements of the adolescent experience. Through the falling outs, heartbreak, and social adventures Charlie takes, each reader can think back to a time when their own life was as hectic as his.

To view the setting of Perks of Being a Wallflower imagine this: A highly capable boy with offbeat ideas and an alternative way of thinking heads for his first day of high school. Sounds like a recipe for disaster? Well, it is. The protagonist, Charlie, struggles to find belonging until befriending his classmates, Patrick and Sam. The two impart their knowledge to Charlie, introducing him to his first girlfriend, indie music, and even drug experimentation. The book, constructed by Charlie’s many letters, outlines the internal transformation he encounters. By reading Charlie’s own account, the audience is privy to Charlie’s exact experience. Additionally, Chbosky writes through Charlie’s perspective by first stating feelings in that entry and then describing why he feels so. In this way, his use of suspense ties the reader in the find out the the deeper meaning of Charlie’s emotions. While Charlie is becomes enlightened by his new surroundings, he struggles internally. Through their many adventures, Charlie’s new friends teach him about the hardest lesson above social belonging, self acceptance.

 

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