Growing Up is Hard to Do

a review of The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

BY MADELINE ARCHANGELO, LAUREN MIX, ISABEL ANDREWS, MOLLY GIBBONS, and REAGAN CARUCCI

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky is a touching coming of age story about a teenage boy named Charlie who is entering into his freshman year of high school while trying to cope with life, death, new friends, and sexuality. This book is arranged in a series of letters to a person that we do not know from Charlie.

Charlie  is a freshman who is very different from most kids in his grade. For starters, his best friend killed himself prior to the beginning of the book. Charlie also notices things that no one else seems to notice, like how the popular girl named Susan “doesn’t look happy,” and “doesn’t like to admit she’s in advanced English.”  In Charlie’s early days of high school he shows himself to be rather uncomfortable with social contact;  however, he somehow befriends two seniors, Sam and Patrick, and piques the interest of his English teacher, who gives him special assignments due to his brilliance. The book mainly consists of the adventures that Patrick, Sam, and Charlie go on and how he learns to cope with high school and come to terms with the negative aspects of his past.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower has many strengths. The character development is clear and logical as Charlie’s slow understanding of himself is masterful. The style and tone is also a strength. Chbosky perfectly captures Charlie’s innocence. Additionally, the plot is clever and unexpected, yet is still executed in a way that’s  easy to follow. The only weakness is pacing. The Perks of Being a Wallflower begins to sag in the middle, and the true plot doesn’t appear until the very end.

Even with its minor flaws, this book is truly a masterpiece. It moves the reader and forces them to think about things they may not have been entirely aware of and makes them look at the world a different way. It addresses the very real struggles in our world like teen pregnancy, abortion, domestic violence, mental health, rape, sexuality and so many other important topics, showing how not every situation is exactly what it looks like.  In addition, Charlie’s character is so relatable and funny as he openly expresses what it’s like to be uncomfortable in a social situation, something everyone has felt.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is the kind of book that most teens would enjoy, but it would be especially relevant to rising freshmen because it explores so many important things that teens go through.  It is also is a very enjoyable read that will make the reader laugh and cry watching this socially awkward teen deal with each situation that comes his way.   Although the book is only just over 100 pages, it is interesting through every single letter.