Perks of Being a Wallflower

The book The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a classic, young adult fiction. Its author, Stephen Chbosky is a novelist, screenwriter and a director from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvanian. This book is his first ever novel and is the most successful as of yet. Written in 1999, the themes, ideas and storyline reflects, lucidly, the veracious features of the very period. Most of the readers would want to chicken out now having developed the notion that it is probably an old-fashioned book. But believe me, it is so relatable for youngsters and adults of the present time, a sincere look into the life of a teenager. To be honest, I was profoundly mesmerized by the title of the book when I first came across it. Therefore, I purchased it to satisfy my curiosity and I am super glad that I did. The title, “The Perks of being a Wallflower”, does not really make much sense at first glance, clearly, because most of the people do not believe that being a wallflower can actually prove to be beneficial sometimes. Nevertheless, after reading the novel, this perception instinctively changes, I promise.

The book has been sundered into four parts that comprise 10 to 15 chapters each. The teens in the book do not have unusually comprehensive vocabulary that cannot easily be understood by a common person of today. Rather, it is well-suited for today’s readers in every aspect, not only the vocabulary but also the messages and ideas. What makes Chbosky’s stream of consciousness style more beautiful is his use of lyrical, philosophical nature of prose. Chbosky’s approach is always unflinching, even when the content is upsetting. Underpinning everything is a desire to acknowledge the complexities in other people, an understanding that nobody commits bad deeds because they are innately bad. In this way, although the book is, at times, very upsetting, it is ultimately uplifting and life affirming.

The main character of the book is a 15-year-old boy named Charlie, who is dealing with suicide, death, an untold humiliating past and anxiety of freshman year of high school, all at the same time. Through Charlie, novelist and screenwriter Stephen Chbosky has created a deeply affecting coming-of-age story, a powerful novel that will spirit the reader back to those wild and poignant rollercoaster days known as growing up.

The main character of the book is a 15-year-old boy named Charlie, who is dealing with suicide, death, an untold humiliating past and anxiety of freshman year of high school, all at the same time. Through Charlie, novelist and screenwriter Stephen Chbosky has created a deeply affecting coming-of-age story, a powerful novel that will spirit the reader back to those wild and poignant rollercoaster days known as growing up

The book came out in 1999, so Charlie’s high school years are based in the early 90’s. He is a wallflower who does not express himself much because of the mental, emotional and psychological state he is in, characterized by the past experiences since childhood where he loses his dear aunt, Aunt Helen, who dies in a car crash. This disturbs Charlie so deeply that he does not seem to get over it ever in his lifetime. He starts to hear voices in his head and see things. Nevertheless, all of this misery successfully ends when he befriends Michael in school, his best friend who, later, commits suicide without even leaving a note. These experiences shape him into a unique repressed personality. However, Charlie does not stop trying to resist the pain and therefore before he commences his first year in high school, he begins to write to an anonymous person, on regular basis, whom he has heard is a good listener and advisor. In the first letter, he writes to him before his first day of high school, he says that he would do his best to improvise his life and turn the corner, which he eventually does. During the starting days of his high school, he faces solitude, unacceptance and bullying from seniors, which lowers his motivation, and hence he does not participate in either class or extra-curricular activities. However, he finds a mentor in his English teacher who keeps giving him a book to read every now and then. Within a few days in High School, Charlie meets Sam and his stepbrother Patrick, who show him a brand new world full of fun, love and friendship. This friendship and the English teacher become the reason to turn his life completely.

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I would definitely recommend reading this book to every single teenager who is even a slightly bit interested in reading novels, because it has so much to teach to youngsters and even adults. I know, I learnt a lot from it.

By Sadia Arshad 
Department of Humanities

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