The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

October 2, 2012
I find it wrong when adults say how a much a person can or can’t understand just by their age. Some people, no matter how old have very creative and very deep minds. Stephen Chbosky, the author of The Perks of Being a Wallflower, AKA The Perks has a very unique way of thinking. While reading this book, even if it was just about a teen in High School, I saw a whole new way of thinking. In my opinion, this book is philosophical and an excellent example of how unique minds work.


Charlie, who never mentions his last name, is a freshman in high school. He narrates this story through letters that he addresses, ‘Dear Friend’ and always signed ‘Love Charlie’. He retells particular parts of his life changing places and names to keep himself and his friends anonymous. Charlie is a “wallflower” ergo, the title of the book. He doesn’t participate in life but he sees and notices everything and everyone. He comes into a group of friends that bring him out of his shell. They appreciate him for who he is but they help him live life. “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.” Charlie has new experiences and is encouraged to live life in the moment. For instance, he gets introduced to drugs and alcohol. I know that this a bad thing but it shows how he jumps into life and starts doing things instead of just sitting and watching. He goes to parties with Sam and Patrick and gets high and drunk. Several times in the book he says how feels ‘infinite’ when he’s with his friends. Sam and Patrick bring him through rough times in his life and he helps them through hard times in theirs.


“And in that moment, I swear we were infinite.” This is one of the most famous quotes of the book. When I read this, it struck a chord with me instantly. Charlie was talking about how he was having a great night with his friends Sam and Patrick, and how it affected him. How, in that moment of time, surrounded by friends he’s never had before, he felt limitless. He feel invincible and it was a moment in time that he would remember, even if it was just one of those little things, like having a good laugh.


One thing I thought was particularly interesting about this book was that there is no specific setting. You know that it snows where they live, and it mentions the proximity of other cities, but you never get a direct city or state. It does though; say that it takes place in the early 90’s somewhere near Pittsburgh.


Personally, my favorite character is Charlie. It might sound cliché to choose the narrator and main character as your favorite, but I really related to him. Charlie is a deep thinker and sees the world in way that any normal teenager his age wouldn’t. His English teacher gives him books to read, which Charlie breezes through in record time. The books make him think about different ways to view the world and life, as his teacher, Bill, intended. Bill is very close to Charlie and probably, aside from Sam and Patrick, one of his best friends. Charlie never stops analyzing things and he understands everything. If someone is heartbroken, he sees it in him or her. He notices behavior in people that might not even notice in themselves. Charlie doesn’t observe in a way that judges people either. He just sees and learns. “And all the books you've read have been read by other people. And all the songs you've loved have been heard by other people. And that girl that's pretty to you is pretty to other people. And that if you looked at these facts when you were happy, you would feel great because you are describing 'unity.” Charlie thinks like this all the time and it shows how he thinks deeper and sees more than just himself.


This is one of the best books I’ve ever read, and I read quite a bit. I wouldn’t know whether or not to say if this book is pure Fiction or Philosophy. I suppose it’s a bit of both and as weird as it sounds for a teen Fiction book to have philosophy within it, it has amazing life lessons. I would recommend reading this book the first chance you get. And then I recommend reading it a second time after that. I absolutely adore this book and I hope other readers share this feeling too.





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