The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky Book Talk
Title: The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Author: Stephen Chbosky
Genre: Young Adult Coming of Age
Page Count: 213 Pages
Released: February 1, 1999 by Pocket Books (MTV Books)
Movie Adaptation: September 21, 2012 (Available to stream on HBOMax)
The Perks of Being a Wallflower gives a personal look into life as an outcast in high school. Through Charlie’s clearly detailed letters, his life story is told. This awkward teen describes how he begins to step out of his comfort zone on the sidelines and start getting more involved / participating more. New friendships, hardships, pleasant memories, and horrific pasts are uncovered throughout the story.
I first read this novel as part of a high school assignment. Both then and now, I found it to be suitable for a teenager to read. This particular writing style of telling the story through a series of letters never ceases to leave me awe-struck. It is such a brilliant way to make a coming of age story even more relatable. Reading letters seemingly addressed to the reader makes you pay more attention to the details that may otherwise fall between the lines.
This is one of those stories where there is something for everyone. Whether you can relate to self identity struggles, dealing with your first crush, feeling like an outsider in your own community, of grappling with unresolved trauma— this story is going to hit you. The book flies by in the blink of an eye. The fact that this novel is the first that author Stephen Chbosky had written is truly inspiring.
There is a movie adaptation to this novel that I had actually watched before I knew that the book even existed. Very rarely do I find book to movie adaptations where the film is as good, or even better. This film is one of those rare occasions. Charlie was perfectly casted in the movie and his solo scenes will bring you to tears. I highly recommend both reading the book and watching the movie to get the full experience of the story. The author of the book also directs the film adaptation, so that may be a factor in how well the movie came out.
I do still recommend reading the book first. The book begins with Charlie asking the recipient of the letters to not try to figure out who he is and that he uses fake names in his letters. Not having a clear visual of what the characters look like while reading the book makes the story feel more immersive and interactive. It is fun to let your imagination take over before watching the movie and having your first impressions tainted.
I am so grateful that my school had assigned this book to my class. It is one of those books that is so realistic, it is heartbreaking.