Book Review: The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

The Perks of Being a WallflowerThe Perks of Being a Wallflower
Stephen Chbosky
MTV Books, August 2012
ISBN 9781451696196
Trade Paperback


This book was recommended to me by one of my high-school students.  I’m glad she made the recommendation; I am completely smitten with Charlie, in a big sister kind of way.  Sadly, I think I was missing the point.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is told by Charlie, a high school freshman, via letters to “Dear Friend”. We quickly learn that he doesn’t feel the need to “fit in”; however, it wouldn’t be accurate to say that he is comfortable in his own skin.  “Wallflower” is definitely the most apt description. Although not necessarily content with it, he generally watches life happen.  When he does act, or more fairly, react, I wanted to cheer, to pat him on the back and say “there, you see, you CAN do it”.  This is not what Charlie needs to hear.

Throughout the freshman year letters, there are certainly allusions to Charlie having issues–more so than the typical teen.  I tried to diagnose.  Depression?  Too simple.  Asperberger’s Disorder?  Yeah, probably not.  I really didn’t expect a revelation, and I most certainly did not expect the issue that was revealed towards the end of the book.  I felt a bit guilty.  I almost want to read it again now, as if under a brighter light.  I won’t, it would feel like cheating.  I’ll just say that Mr. Chbosky created a lovable character, one that spans the generations—loved equally by my 15-year old student and me (a not-so-young adult).

Reviewed by jv poore, November 2012.