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Saturday, October 24, 2009

Perks of Being a Wallflower

Stephen Chbosky
Published 1999
213 Pages
Rating: B-

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.

This haunting novel about the dilemma of passivity vs. passion marks the stunning debut of a provocative new voice in contemporary fiction: The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

This is the story of what it's like to grow up in high school. More intimate than a diary, Charlie's letters are singular and unique, hilarious and devastating. We may not know where he lives. We may not know to whom he is writing. All we know is the world he shares. Caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it puts him on a strange course through uncharted territory. The world of first dates and mixed 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.

Through Charlie, Stephen Chbosky has created a deeply affecting coming-of-age story, a powerful novel that will spirit you back to those wild and poignant roller coaster days known as growing up.

(taken from back of book)

I have been hearing about this book off and on for about the past 2 years, and I always wondered what it was about, but I never got around to reading it. So finally I requested it from my library and a few days later *TA-DA* its in my hands. This review may not be helpful if you havent read it, and if you have read it, this review may seem terrible. I really dont know what to say about this book.

I liked it. But then again I didnt. It was strange, it is almost like I have a love/hate relationship with it. Like I do with so many other things. But anyway, let me begin.

This book is a diary of a boy named Charlie. He is a freshman in high school, and doesnt have any friends. His one friend, Michael, died not too long ago, and now he doesn't feel close to anybody. Hence the reason he starts writing this diary. He starts every entry as: Dear friend, .. It is almost sad that the person reading this book/diary is his only "friend," but it adds to the uniqueness of the book. It is really interesting reading a book that is meant to be a diary, it almost seems wrong to be reading his "diary", since he does tell you about his experiences. Such as his relationships with his mom, dad, older brother & sister, his new friends Sam and Patrick, when he drinks and when he does drugs, etc. It is a very personal book, and that is actually one of the reasons why I like it. It is so raw, and open; it makes you want to just hug Charlie. Watching him get through his freshman year of high school is kind of fun. But watching him grow as a person is even better, he finally comes into his skin.

Some parts of the book I didn't like, but that is mostly I just felt awkward while reading them. It felt wrong for me to be so into Charlie's life and know so much about him, when it seems that his parents don't even know anything about it. But it was nice that he could have a way to escape, by writing in his diary, or journal (for all those guys out there who don't keep "journals" not "diaries" ;] -- whatever you want to call it).

When he finally does make friends, Sam and Patrick, it is really interesting reading about his experiences with them. Charlie falls in love with Sam, although he knows he can never have her since she is a senior in high school. But as you read, and the way he feels about Sam changes, it really keeps you wondering what will happen in the end.

Hmm..the ending. I didnt really get it. Maybe I didnt really "read" it well enough to understand it, or maybe it was just too late at night. But I honestly have no idea what the ending was supposed to be, except the fact that all of his friends have left him. So yeah..if someone wants to help me with that, it will be greatly appreciated. :)

All in all, I liked Perks of Being a Wallflower..but I had my issues with it. I would recommend it to anyone that wants something so deep, and open, and just out there. Charlie is a really raw character, and reading his diary gets pretty interesting.


I felt like I used the word interesting a thousand times! I need a new word for interesting! Ha.


  1. Does Charlie end up giving his diary to someone?

  2. I've wanted to read this book for a long while too. I should really buy it, I've heard good things about it. Thanks for the review Arielle. :D

  3. I didn't know what to make of this book either... I think he gets rid of his journal at the end right? (tell me if I'm wrong-I read this book my junior year of high school and my memory's a bit fuzzy). I did like the part where Sam told him, "Write about me sometime." as she started playing with the keys to the... OMG I CAN'T REMEMBER! >_<;

    I think it's one of those books that doesn't have one true meaning; whatever message you get from the book is your own.

  4. Phillip:: I actually have no idea what he does with his diary afterwards, I think he just keeps it. But doesnt continue writing because of everything else that is going on. But he wants whoever is reading the book to know he is all right.

    Penguin:: I remember what you are talking about! but man, for the life of me I cannot remember when that is and what else is going on! Ha. I agree with the meaning, its all up to how you interpret it I guess.


  5. Thanks for the review! I'll probably just check it out of the library,

  6. I gave you an award at my blog!

  7. Wow. You all clearly did not understand the book at all.

    It wasn't a diary. It was a group of letters. Hence how they're all written in letter form. He is writing to this random person who he didn't know, but was friends with Michael. At the end of the book he mails the letters off.

    Also, I don't know how you could make anything of the book at all if you don't know what happens at the end - writing a review not understanding the ending is kind of pointless. (SPOILER) The reason he freaks out when Sam tries to touch him "down there" is because his aunt Helen would touch him there too when he was younger. He realizes this in a dream and that's why he freaks out and ends up in the hospital at the end.


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