“You see things. You keep quiet about them. And you understand," wrote Stephen Chbosky in his novel The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Who keeps quiet about their feelings and how? The Perks of Being a Wallflower is an invigorating, and intriguing book about a boy named Charlie who writes about his experience as a freshman in high school in a series of letters. These letters consist of the thoughts and events happening in his life that he doesn’t quite express out loud because of shyness of awkwardness. His life takes a tumble when he loses his best and only friend Michael in 8th grade in a devastating way in which he partially blames himself and he experiences his first loss of innocence when his own aunt Helen abuses him when he was young. He tries to gain his identity in high school through social and physical interactions as he has problems with friendships and sexual relationships.
Throughout the novel, Charlie struggles to gain and perfect his friendships. Many people feel that new experiences call for new friendships and it is an arduous task that takes time. Charlie had a friend named Michael who commits suicide in middle school potentially from problems at home. This is one of the first events described in the book and the first time Charlie is seen depressed and crying having a deleterious effect on him. He goes into high school without anyone to socialize with and spends time watching people to figure out what is normal. In addition, Charlie sees that high school is disparate from middle school and does not enjoy his first day. His parents do not give him much help or closure about anything and he really feels on his own. He then meets Patrick who is a senior and becomes friends with him and his stepsister Sam and their group of friends. Even though he does some abnormal things that make them skeptical, Patrick and Sam stick by him throughout the year and Charlie writes all about it in letters. I personally love that Chbosky makes it easy to sympathize with Charlie because he explains all his feelings in his letters. Since he is a quiet person or “wallflower”, it makes me feel like Charlie and I are having our own private conversation in a small, white room where he is sitting on the other side of a desk and telling me everything about his friendships, almost as if I were his best friend Michael.
Sex and love become a vital part of Charlie’s life and all he reflects about later in the novel. Many people in high school or even anywhere struggle with managing perfect sexual relationships and Charlie and Sam struggle with this as well. Sam hassles with finding people that truly love her, which most people often face. However, Charlie’s troubles start when he is young because his Aunt Helen molests him, and this debases his view of sex. After becoming friends with Sam and Patrick, his first “girlfriend” is a woman named Mary and he doesn’t know how to handle her talking all the time and doesn’t fall in love with her. However, he has a crush on Sam that remains until the end of the book. Despite this affection, when he is kissing Sam, he abruptly stops and remembers his early life with Aunt Helen giving him the appalling image of Aunt Helen kissing him. This scars him for life because he is afraid of sex and cannot have a normal sex life with a woman that he loves. In my opinion, it is interesting to see Charlie dealing with his life and the women around him since he becomes friends with a lot of them after meeting Patrick, especially being a “wallflower” or someone who represses their feelings and has trouble expressing them. Just as friendships go for Charlie, his struggles to have a proper sexual relationship are fascinating to read about since it feels like you are having a conversation face-to-face with him while reading his letters. The suspense with Charlie’s life makes The Perks of Being a Wallflower a novel you won’t put down.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower, a novel written by Stephen Chbosky, is a very distinguished novel where the protagonist Charlie writes about hardships of friendships and sex throughout his first year of high school. His struggle in making and maintaining friendships kept my nose in the book reading about what Charlie would do next, whether it is going to another party or just hanging out with Sam and Patrick. His awkward personality and attitude toward everyone make me interested in reading his letters and he makes a firm connection with the reader when expressing his thoughts about everything that happens making it easier to sympathize with him. Sex and love create a quagmire in the storyline as he and Sam want to be with people they truly love, however the person they truly love was right in front of them the whole time and they never expressed or spoke up about their feelings for each other until the end. High school is all about finding identity and Charlie finds himself through his friendships and sexual encounters with Mary and Sam, and many teenagers are going through the same types of problems as Charlie even though they aren’t exactly in Charlie’s shoes. When I first read the novel, I instantly fell in love with the vivid writing style of Chbosky and the letters Charlie writes make me feel like I am having a conversation with him. So what are the perks of being a wallflower? Find out by reading Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower.