“the perks of being a wallflower” by Stephen Chbosky


the perks of being a wallflower, a “cult classic” that is said to address the difficulties of growing up; a coming of age story. I heard about Chbosky’s novel non-stop last year, especially because the movie was coming out. I love reading coming of age stories so I was excited when I got the chance to read it.

The novel is told through letters written to a “friend” from Charlie about his experiences in his first year of high school. Normally, I like novels written as letters or diary entries; I feel like I get to know the protagonist better. Charlie talks about his experiences with drugs, sex, and meeting new friends.

I was very disappointed, to say the least. Charlie sounded like he may have autism. I’ve read The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime and Charlie sounded very similar to the narrator of Haddon’s novel. Autism is never addressed in Chobsky’s novel so I didn’t understand why the author made this stylist choice. Charlie also cries ALL the time. He cries no matter what happens, whether it’s something like his teacher giving him a new book to read or hanging out at a party.

Though the novel addresses things like sex and drugs, that many teenagers encounter in high school, I felt like Chbosky didn’t take these topics far enough. Sex is talked about, but never explored. Drugs are mentioned, but their sometimes disastrous results are never mentioned.

Chbosky skims the surface, not only with these topics, but with the entire novel. He never really delves into anything. Charlie’s character or any other character in the novel isn’t explored. I didn’t feel a connection with any character.

If you’re thinking of reading Chbosky’s novel because you keep hearing about it, skip it. The novel is overrated and will leave you disappointed.


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