Friday, June 12, 2015

Book Review: The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Title: The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Author: Stephen Chbosky
Format: Paperback
Publisher: MTV Books
Publication Date: February 1999
Source: Purchased from Borders
Charlie is a freshman.

And while he's not the biggest geek in the school, he is by no means popular. Shy, introspective, intelligent beyond his years yet socially awkward, he is a wallflower, caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it.

Charlie is attempting to navigate his way through uncharted territory: the world of first dates and mix 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. But he can't stay on the sideline forever. 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.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a deeply affecting coming-of-age story that will spirit you back to those wild and poignant roller-coaster days known as growing up.

My Review

Me and Stephen on opening night of
The Perks of Being a Wallflower
It's kind of funny that I've been posting reviews for about a year now, but this review hasn't found its way to my blog until now. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky is probably my favorite contemporary book, and I just can't believe that I've never shared my love for it with you. Weird, right? Especially when I was sitting in the multipurpose room of my college's student union when Stephen said, "Shhhh. Don't tell anyone but Emma Watson is going to play Sam." We'd heard the rumors, but he flat out told us and confirmed it. At that moment, we all started Tweeting and posting Facebook statuses that it was official. (He's the only author I've ever met twice - once at school, and a once at the movie theater.)

Anyway, let's get to all of the reasons I love this book...

First of all, I adored Mr. Chbosky's simple writing style.  When you read The Perks of Being a Wallflower, you feel like you are the friend that Charlie is writing to because you really are the friend he needs. You're reading Charlie's every thought, and sometimes they come out sounding very profound, but other times, they are just completely raw and emotional. You smile with Charlie. You laugh with Charlie. You cry with Charlie. You really do become his anonymous best friend. It's a wonderful feeling to be able to connect with a character in that way, but Chbosky just makes Charlie one of the most graspable YA characters. The bonus - the letters. There's just something so beautiful about letters, and I will cherish Perks forever because of Charlie's letters.

Secondly, I loved the characters in this book. Not only is Charlie a wonder, but his friends are too. Yes, they're not exactly the most functional group of friends, but their friendships and relationships just work. They are all so completely different, yet they find ways to come together and form a tight-knit friendship. Charlie, Sam, Patrick, and the rest of the gang have their ups and downs, but at the end of the book, they all realize that they are better together, and it's just a really good message for young readers.

I truly believe that every teenager in the United States and the rest of the world needs to read this book. My English teacher raved about it when I was a junior in high school. (Well he was pretty much a Stephen Chbosky fangirl, but that's beside the point.) This book might not speak to every teenager, but at one point, a teenager will suffer from or know someone who suffers from depression, anxiety, or other mental illnesses. I think it's important to read about those kinds of illnesses, and Perks will forever be the gateway book for me that introduced me to issue-heavy books.

As a Pittsburgher, this book will always be in my heart. I love that such a wonderful book is set in my hometown. I also love that I've been lucky enough to meet Stephen Chbosky twice now, and I have an autographed book and movie poster to show for it. I will be proud every time I remove this book from my shelf to reread.

Stephen Chbosky grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and graduated from the University of Southern California's Filmic Writing Program. His first film, The Four Corners of Nowhere, premiered at the 1995 Sundance Film Festival and went on to win Best Narrative Feature honors at the Chicago Underground Film Festival.

He is the recipient of the Abraham Polonsky Screenwriting Award for his screenplay Everything Divided as well as a participant in the Sundance Institute's filmmakers' lab for his current project, Fingernails and Smooth Skin.


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  1. Awesome review. This is one of my favorite books ever, and it’s so cool that you got to meet the author.

  2. This is one of my favourite books! I just can't even put my feelings towards this book in words. It spoke volumes to me and I felt an incredibly connection with every character... each and every one of them had something that I could relate with. And I think that's one of the good things about this story. And I like the way it is written because we can feel that Charlie is a teenager, with his ups and downs, his moments of stupidity but also his moments of clarity.

  3. I loved this book so much I read it in one go, nice review :)

  4. I read it in one sitting the first time too. It's just so good.

    Thank you! :)

  5. That's how I feel too - every single character struck a chord with me, so it definitely has a place in my heart. I just can't believe that Stephen hasn't published a book since this one. I'd kill for another book by him.

  6. The weird thing is I don't even remember a time when this book wasn't the thing to read because it's always been the book to read in this city. It seems like almost everyone picks up a copy by the time they get to college. In high school, my English teacher praised Chbosky every day, and he even let us watch Jericho in class. I sub there now, and I actually got to tell my old English teacher about meeting him, and he was kind of jealous. I feel like they'd have a bromance.

    I really hope you decide to read the book and watch the movie, Preethi. Let me know what you think of it if you end up reading the book. :)

  7. Emily @ Paperback PrincessJune 12, 2015 at 4:15 PM

    This is definitely one of my favourite books! Every character blew me away, I can't even put it into words! I can't believe you've met Stephen Chbosky! He is probably one of my heroes.

  8. It's got to be the most perfect book ever written. I just love it so much, and I'm glad you did too, Emily. :)

    He's one of my heroes too. :)

  9. You got to meet Stephen! That is so cool. I looooooooved reading this book, like you said you cry with Charlie, and sometime for Charlie. You laugh with him and his friends and I remember connecting in such deep level with this book that I finished it and I felt this sort of emptiness because I kept thinking, what about Charlie now? I won't know what he's up to. I do hope he is well. What you said is true, I thought I was Charlie's best friend. What a beautiful book, and yes. Everyone should read it. Lovely review, Erin! :)

  10. The Catcher in the Rye is one of my favorite books and I loved it so much, which is why I also enjoyed Perks of Being a Wallflower, though I thought the movie was just alright. You're so lucky to have met Chbosky! Great review, Erin

  11. I have to get my review for The Catcher in the Rye up one of these days. That is such a good book too, but I have no idea why I never included it on here. :0

    Thanks, Blessie! :)

  12. Charlie was definitely relatable to me and I love how his friends aren't portrayed as perfect chill people that are always there to give sage advice when Charlie's in trouble. Instead, they were also humans with their own lives and their own problems and they all had to work together to figure things out and help each other. That's the kind of friendship that I love reading about :)

  13. Thanks! Both times were experiences to remember.

    I think about Charlie now too. It would be nice to see if he did well after all he went through.

  14. I agree. It's one of the most realistic books I've ever read because everyone in the book has problems.

  15. I'm glad you liked this! I think this was one of my first contemporaries in a while (not the first first, but for that time in my life, yep). And I was so surprised at how much I liked it as well. I think I also loved the fact that it was all in letters addressed to only "a friend". AND YES TO THE FRIENDSHIPS

  16. I loved this one. I can't even remember how long it's been since I read it, but it was one of the first young adult books, actually I think it was the first YA book I ever read. But yes! The friendships are the best part. :)


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