MC Reader: ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’


This column is slowly turning into me just looking at books that have become movies,

but I can’t seem to help myself. The release of the film version of “The Perks of Being a
Wallflower” last fall gave me the push to finally read the novel, which had been on my “To-
Read” list since high school. I cannot express how glad I am that I finally read this classic book
by Stephen Chbosky.

If you have yet to read the novel or even see the movie, you have most likely heard of
“Perks,” and, trust me, it lives up to its hype.

Traditionally described as a “coming-of-age” tale, “Perks” is told through letters that the
protagonist, Charlie, is writing to recipient who remains unnamed, as well as a person Charlie
himself doesn’t know very well. The opening letter dives right into the secret aspects of Charlie’s
life: the loss of his best friend, his complicated family dynamics and his fears of entering high
school the very next day. His writings tell the story with a mix of daily accounts, as well as
meaningful flashbacks in Charlie’s life.

Like most people starting a new school, Charlie struggles to find his niche, which is
further complicated by his unique mentality in comparison with the typical high school student.
After being impressed by upperclassman Patrick in shop class, Charlie approaches him and his
friend at a football game, which leads to Charlie discovering a world of friendship and firsts.
These events of Charlie’s freshman year of high school unfold in achingly intimate letters to his
unknown friend.

That is a really brief introduction to the novel, because I am afraid of giving away parts
of this story. Each letter shows something new about Charlie or his world; everything is unveiled
in such a poignant way that I would hate to ruin it, however. I am not being dramatic when I say
that this book can change your life.

If you read this novel and aren’t emotionally affected, please come talk to me because I
think you read it wrong. This is one of those books where I found myself reading at 3 a.m., dying
to see what happens at the end. And I wasn’t disappointed. Post-read, I just sat in bed and tried to
stop myself from picking up the book to read again all over. It’s that good.

This is a young adult novel with 213 pages, so it is not hard to get through. The most
difficult thing about this book, in my opinion, is understanding Charlie’s mindset/perspective and
accepting a few of the subject matters that pop up. I do not want to give anything away, but if
you are sensitive or easily triggered by certain issues, do a little bit of research before you delve
into this book.

While I knew people loved this book, I had no knowledge of the plot besides the fact that
at some point, someone swears they were “infinite,” and I am really happy that I started the book
with just that little glimpse.

If you haven’t read this book yet, run – don’t walk – to your nearest bookstore and treat
yourself to a copy of “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” and maybe you will feel infinite, too.

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