The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a relatively short novel by Stephen Chbosky that was published in 1999. This is perhaps one of Chbosky’s most well known novel. It is a coming of age story about a intelligent freshman coming into his first year of high school. This book takes place in the early 1990’s .
The Perks of Being a Wallflower begins on the very first day of high school for freshman Charlie Kelmeckis. It is revealed early on in the story that he has had traumatic experiences in the past: his best friend in middle school had committed suicide, and the death of one of his Aunt Helen. He is then taken under the wing of two seniors Patrick and Sam who are step-siblings. Charlie is then accepted into Patrick and Sam’s friend group and starts to experiment with tobacco, alcohol and other drugs. One of the people in the friend group Mary Elizabeth invites him to their schools Sadie Hawkins Dance which starts a romantic relationship between the two. The relationship turns out to be a disaster as their personalities are so different and it eventually ends. Conflict then starts to ensure after Patrick’s gay lover ,Brad, who’s father had found out about the relationship. Violence then ensues but it all resolves itself as Patrick seemingly moves on. Nearing the end of the school year Charlie is sad because all of his friends are going on to college especially Sam who he has had romantic feelings for the whole year. After Sam and her boyfriend break up Charlie and Sam start to engage in sexual activity which stirrers up memories of Charlie getting molested as a child by his Aunt Helen which were repressed due to his love for her. The story then skips to an epilogue where Charlie is found in a catatonic state and is admitted to a mental hospital. After getting better he is seen going to go “participate” in life.
The book is written in a very unique way. The book is written through letters from Charlie to an unknown person which gives the book a different perspective. All the reader knows about the story is all Charlie remembers and all that he would like to share giving the reader limited knowledge about the story. I also found it very interesting that the book is not really written with a main plot in mind. It is just a journey through freshman year and a recount of what happened. A lot of the things that Charlie mentions are not connected at all in any way.
The author uses irony when writing this book. There are many bits and pieces throughout the book where Charlie talks about Aunt Helen as his most favorite person in the world. But is later revealed that she sexually abused him. The title of the book can also be taken as irony. Perks of Being a Wallflower actually does not show the actual perks, but instead it shows that bad and good things happen to all kinds of people.
I think that a good amount of people might enjoy the book. Though there is no real main plot people will be glad to reminisce about their old high school days. The people who will like this book must also be pretty mature as there is lots of cases of sexual content, drugs, alcohol, and violence. But I think that this book will appeal most to freshman in high school as they can relate to it the most