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Review: The Perks of Being a Wallflower

January 10, 2014

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Charlie is nervous about starting high school so he starts writing anonymous letters to a friend because he needs to know that “someone out there listens and understands.”  He shares everything about his freshman year with the unnamed person.  Charlie’s brother is in college and his sister is a senior in high school.  His parents aren’t demonstrative but they do their best for their kids.

Charlie’s honors English teacher sees potential in him and encourages him to “participate” in life so Charlie steps out of his comfort zone and becomes friends with seniors Sam and Patrick.  Sam and Patrick are half-siblings and are much more worldly than Charlie.  Still, their group accepts and includes Charlie and he revels in their attention.  He learns a lot about them and himself even when he makes some missteps along the way.  He learns,

So, I guess we are who we are for a lot of reasons.  And maybe we’ll never know most of them.  But even if we don’t have the power to choose where we come from, we can still choose where we go from there.

It’s hard to describe The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky since it’s told from the perspective of an adolescent boy.  His thoughts ramble even as he tells his story.  It’s best to pay attention, though, because some of those ramblings are important.  You see, there’s a secret in Charlie’s past that has had a huge impact on him but he’s blocked it out.

Many teens will be able to relate to Charlie even if they can’t relate to his secret.  His feelings of social awkwardness and not belonging are almost universal for kids that age.  They have so much to figure out, even as they’re on the verge of adulthood.

The movie version of The Perks of Being a Wallflower follows the plot of the book pretty closely so I pretty much knew what was going to happen as I read it.  That didn’t keep me from enjoying this coming of age story, though.  I thought the book was very well written – Chbosky captures the voice of a teenage boy perfectly.  Because of issues explored, I recommend this book to older teens on up.

kid konnection newI will link this up to Booking Mama’s Saturday feature, Kid Konnection. If you’d like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children’s books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week, leave a comment as well as a link on her site tomorrow.

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35 Comments leave one →
  1. January 10, 2014 8:52 am

    Usually i read the book before I see the movie, but this one I’ve only seen the movie (on an airplane). I really liked the movie and am glad to hear that it remained faithful to the book. I can only imagine that it is a good read as well.

  2. Patty permalink
    January 10, 2014 9:12 am

    I really need to read this…thank you for reminding me!

  3. January 10, 2014 9:41 am

    I loved the book and the movie.

  4. January 10, 2014 10:02 am

    I watched a bit of the movie but not all of it, but didn’t feel like I wanted to see more. Maybe I turned it on during not the best part….

  5. January 10, 2014 10:08 am

    I have not seen the movie, but we did read this for one of my book clubs. I liked it.

  6. January 10, 2014 10:58 am

    I read this book a couple years ago. I should get around to watching the movie.

  7. January 10, 2014 11:39 am

    I liked the movie much better than the book. I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with Charlie when I first read the book–was he autistic? mentally challenged?
    The actor who played him in the movie made it all seem plausible.

  8. January 10, 2014 11:54 am

    I’ve been on the hold list at our library for this one for months!

  9. January 10, 2014 12:26 pm

    I have heard on and off about this book for years, but for some reason I’ve never felt drawn to it. Would you recommend the movie as well? I hate to watch a movie before reading the book, but I just don’t have the motivation to give this book a chance, LOL!

  10. January 10, 2014 12:37 pm

    Love the book and the movie! Having the author direct the film was a good call because you’re right the movie follows the book so well.

  11. sandynawrot permalink
    January 10, 2014 1:00 pm

    I actually saw the movie first as well, and I completely fell in love with it. Just one of those movies that struck a chord in me. I attribute it to the onscreen chemistry – it really worked. And I loved the book equally. It was really well done, very creative and in tune. I LOVED all the pop culture references.

  12. January 10, 2014 2:01 pm

    I read this book years ago, and while I know it’s a fave of SO many people, I only sort of remember feeling “meh” about it. I wonder if it was the time in life when I read it (early-mid twenties)? Not sure. I definitely want to see the movie, though.

  13. January 10, 2014 4:13 pm

    Yeah I saw the movie last spring and liked it quite a bit. I don’t recall much of it now but I remember it being good. I haven’t read the book alas.

  14. January 10, 2014 4:45 pm

    I really, really need to read this. Last year it was briefly banned from the Jr.High School library in my town when a couple of parents complained. It’s now back on the shelves.

  15. January 10, 2014 4:50 pm

    i haven’t read this one yet although both of my girls did and loved it. glad it was enjoyable for you as well!

  16. January 10, 2014 8:12 pm

    glad you enjoyed it.

  17. January 10, 2014 8:37 pm

    I read this a long time ago it seems –maybe 6 years or so so I forgot most of it LOL

  18. January 10, 2014 10:36 pm

    I have this one on my every growing list of to-reads. I will move it closer to the top now, based on your review. Thanks a bunch,

  19. lab1990 permalink
    January 10, 2014 10:53 pm

    I love this book; it’s one of my all time favorites. I re-read it so much as I grew up. I think the movie was really well done too. I’m glad you liked it. I’d recommend Ballads of Suburbia by Stephanie Kuehnert for anyone who loves Perks.

    Lauren from

  20. January 11, 2014 1:05 am

    I’ve thought about reading this and your review reminds me to do so! As usual, your review is excellent.

  21. Beth F permalink
    January 11, 2014 5:50 am

    I haven’t yet seen the movie! Must correct that soon!

  22. January 11, 2014 3:59 pm

    This is one of my favorite books ever, so I’m glad you’ve read it! I saw the movie and although it followed the book well, I thought it was just okay. The book just had so much heart, in my opinion.

  23. January 11, 2014 9:22 pm

    I think I’m one of a few that haven’t read this, and I haven’t seen the movie either.

  24. January 11, 2014 10:10 pm

    So, which is better book or movie? I want to read and see both but I’m curious which you prefer.

  25. January 12, 2014 4:57 am

    I think adolescent boys think differently! I found Fats in The Casual Vacancy equally difficult to understand. I knew where the teenage girls were going and why they were what they were, but the boys were tough to figure out.

  26. January 12, 2014 10:55 am

    I thought this was great! I still need to review it though.

  27. January 12, 2014 1:00 pm

    I’ve heard quite a lot about the film, but not so much about the book. I may get this one…

  28. bookingmama permalink
    January 13, 2014 9:32 am

    I want to see the movie and read the book, but I think I’ll start with the book! Plus, doesn’t it mention Penn State?

  29. January 13, 2014 1:50 pm

    This is actually one of my Not-So-Bebe-Girl Autumn’s favorites. She keeps at me to read it myself, too. I think I will pull it off the TBR shelves rather soon!

  30. January 13, 2014 3:54 pm

    I tried reading this book a long time ago and couldn’t get past the first 10 pages. And then i watched the movie and wasn’t wowed by it either. Glad you enjoyed it, though!

  31. January 13, 2014 6:11 pm

    I read this one awhile ago. When it first published, I think. THen reread it a few years ago for Banned Book Week. I loved it both times.

  32. January 14, 2014 2:07 pm

    I’ve heard such great things about this book. I want to read it at some point.

  33. January 15, 2014 2:40 pm

    I managed to watch this movie the very day I finished the book and thought both were great.

  34. Jennifer permalink
    January 19, 2014 3:04 pm

    When I was in high school this definitely stood out as one of my favorite book. I still remember staying up very late one summer evening eagerly turning the page to find out what would happen to Charlie but even more than that, I could definitely relate to Charlie. I still find myself recommending and discussing this book with teenagers that I teach.

    I have to admit that I found the movie to be a bit disappointing. Even though it did technically follow the book, I found myself disenchanted by the real life portrayal of the characters. Maybe I’ve just distanced myself from the story as I grew older.

  35. January 24, 2014 9:51 pm

    I enjoyed the book so much that I’ve avoided watching the movie but I’ll check it out now since it follows the book a bit.

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