Book Review: The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Unless you were part of the 1% of kids who breezed through high school as though it was one long party, the chances are your teenage years were blighted by sporadic bouts of indecision, insecurity, and awkwardness which you did your best to hide. Well news flash, it turns out you weren’t alone, as Stephen Chbosky’s novel The Perks of Being Wallflower explains.

Told through a series of letters written by Charlie, an intelligent but extremely introverted high school freshman, the story examines the near-crippling fear, self-doubt and anxiety that can accompany adolescence and how in such often traumatic circumstances, teenagers find sanctuary.

Charlie does so through the friendships he forms with a group of misfits operating in their own carefree bubble outside of the in-crowd. A bubble that he soon finds himself inhabiting after bonding with brother and sister Patrick and Sam. His companionship with the siblings and the rest of their peer group grows as they bond over a shared passion for various distractions from the day-to-day stresses of high school such as good music, interesting books, and the Rocky Horror Picture Show.

While Charlie’s experiences are extremely relatable to any teenager not oozing with confidence, they also provide older readers (I must sadly include myself in this category) with a pleasant sense of nostalgia as they recall a time before they ever thought about bills and salaries and commutes, a time when the only thing that seemed to matter was finding the right song.

Despite being set in the early nineties, the story feels in no way dated and captures both the joyousness and the intense pain which adolescent life can fluctuate between in a manner that feels authentic throughout.


Rating: 4.5/5 A beautiful novel and a must read for anyone who was not one of the cool kids.