Book Review: The Perks of Being a Wallflower


Book Review: The Perks of Being a WallflowerThe Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Release Date: 2012-08-14
Publisher: MTV Books
Pages: 224

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.Since its publication, Stephen Chbosky’s haunting debut novel has received critical acclaim, provoked discussion and debate, grown into a cult phenomenon with over three million copies in print, spent over one year at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list, and inspired a major motion picture starring Logan Lerman and Emma Watson.The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a story about what it’s like to travel that strange course through the uncharted territory of high school. The world of first dates, family dramas, and new friends. Of sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Of those wild and poignant roller-coaster days known as growing up.

While I did not particularly like this book, I can see why many would. Charlie’s voice rings very true as a typical high school-er. While the book is set in 1991-1992, many teens will be able to relate to the situations that Charlie has to deal with. Issues such as drugs, alcohol, abuse, and fitting in are relevant no matter what year you’re in. So, I have to give Chbosky kudos for keeping it real in that aspect.

However, there are some issues that ultimately made me dislike the book. For example, the thing with his English teacher (Bill) and all the extra reading felt over the top to me. The long list of books ended up overwhelming me and feeling too contrived. Plus, I was kind of waiting for his English teacher to overstep his boundaries with all the attention he was giving Charlie. (Or maybe I’m too cynical and have heard of too many teacher sexual abuse headlines?) I also didn’t like that Charlie made out with his gay best friend (Patrick) in order to make him happy. I know this probably somehow ties in with the abuse issues and finding himself, but to me this went one step too far. I kept waiting for Charlie to question his sexuality/come out gay and felt bewildered when it never happened. But the real tipping point came in the last chapter when his sexual abuse issue comes out. I really wish it had come out much sooner in the book. While I understand that Charlie was off-center and had many issues, I felt it was easily related to guilt and grief from his aunt’s death and friend’s suicide. Had it been mentioned sooner I may have read Charlie in a completely different manor.

I am interested to hear from fellow readers and here what you think. Sometimes I wonder if I’m too hard on books at times…I suppose it’s the English Major/Librarian in me. Oh well, can’t love them all right?

  1. This one left me totally conflicted. In fact, I felt so weird about it that I didn’t even review it on my blog.

    It was true and raw and… too much, I guess? It killed me how much of his life his parents had no clue about. And, yeah, the making out with the friend was… weird. He was too much of a follower. And I can’t decide if that bothered me because it was unrealistic… or because it wasn’t.

    1. I sat on this one almost two week before I could review it. I kept running it over and over in my head and talking about what bothered me. It was very raw, honest and open and can see many high schoolers liking this book and Charlie. My high school experience was nothing like Charlies and I think that made it hard to relate to him at times.

  2. This book is one of the titles embroiled in controversy in West Bend, Wis. Some town residents objected to it being placed in the the library’s YA collection, and as a result the town government made big changes in the library board. I wrote about the issue on The Baltimore Sun’s Read Street blog. Here’s the link:
    http://weblogs.baltimoresun.com/entertainment/books/blog/2009/04/forget_the_twilight_ban_this_i.html#comments
    p.s. Welcome to Book Blogs; hope you enjoy the site.

    1. Ugh, I hate book challenges. While I didn’t like it myself, I would never remove it from my YA section. I fully understand that many teens do go through what Charlie is and they need book that they can relate to.

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