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

The Perks of Being a Wallflower
by Stephen Chbosky

Publication date: February 2nd 2009
Publisher: Pocket Books (first published February 1999)
Pages: 232


Charlie is a freshman. And while he’s not the biggest geek in the school, he is by no means popular. Shy, introspective, intelligent beyond his years yet socially awkward, he is a wallflower, caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it. Charlie is attempting to navigate his way through uncharted territory: the world of first dates and mixed tapes, family dramas and new friends; the world of sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, when all one requires is that perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite. But Charlie can’t stay on the sideline forever. 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.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a deeply affecting coming-of-age story that will spirit you back to those wild and poignant roller-coaster days known as growing up.

Source: Goodreads


“We accept the love we think we deserve.”

I’ve seen nothing but good things about this book but never given it a try. The internet is full of quotes from the story and I think you’d be hard pushed to find someone who’s never at least heard of the title (this book has more than 1 million ratings on Goodreads and the film was well reviewed too).

Charlie is a socially awkward freshman, writing letters to an unnamed friend. He tells his friend absolutely everything, from his homework assignments to his first erection and so much more.

Image result for the perks of being a wallflower
Source: Tumblr

This is a short book, but it is packed with some difficult and heavy subjects including suicide, domestic abuse, drug use, rape and abortion.

I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I had wanted to, and I found the writing style and structure to be somewhat tiring. Charlie writes with innocence and the author has chosen his sentence structure and grammar to represent this. I understand the technique and have really enjoyed other books like this in the past, but on top of those tricky subjects, this didn’t make for an easy or enjoyable read.

“I don’t think that there is a favorite kid in our family. There are three of us and I am the youngest. My brother is the oldest. He is a very good football player and likes his car.”

Another point I’m somewhat frightened to admit to you all is that I didn’t feel sad and I wasn’t really affected by this book in any way. Am I too cold-hearted? Probably! 🙈

I felt the story was a little too melodramatic for my tastes, but I certainly understand why people love it. I also give it huge credit for addressing these topics, especially those so increasingly faced by teenagers today. I think that if I had read this when I was younger, I’d probably have enjoyed it a lot more but at this point in my life, it wasn’t for me.

Overall rating: Contrary to popular opinion, I didn’t love “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” and the writing style was most responsible for this. I didn’t hate it, but I just didn’t feel it was for me – 2 stars.

Update: After finishing the book I watched the film, which was actually directed by the book’s author Stephen Chbosky and I have to say that I did enjoy it a lot more so I’m glad the story wasn’t completely lost on me!

7 thoughts on “Book Review: The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

  1. I really loved this book but I first read it in middle school. I think you’re right, it really does depend when in your life you read it because it is so specifically targeted to teenagers in a way most YA is not. In my experience, people who read in high school or younger really loved it, and those who read it later didn’t like it nearly as much.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think that’s exactly right! Since posting this review on Instagram I’ve had a few comments from others who said the same thing. If I had read this book when I was younger I’d probably have such a different opinion now! I’m glad to hear that you enjoyed it, thank you for reading 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  2. You’re really not alone! I didn’t find this book that interesting either. Though, coming from the UK, I have no ‘standard teenager’ to compare Charlie to. Also, I have nominated you to take part in The Good Reading Habits Tag. Of course, if you don’t want to take part then I would not be offended but it would be nice to see what your good reading habits are 🙂 Here’s the link to my post and the questions:
    Thank you,
    Erin x

    Liked by 1 person

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