The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Published August 14, 2012 (Orig. 1999)
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About The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Read the cult-favorite coming-of-age story that takes a sometimes heartbreaking, often hysterical, and always honest look at high school in all its glory. Now a major motion picture starring Logan Lerman and Emma Watson, The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a funny, touching, and haunting modern classic.
The critically acclaimed debut novel from Stephen Chbosky, Perks follows observant “wallflower” Charlie as he charts a course through the strange world between adolescence and adulthood. First dates, family drama, and new friends. Sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Devastating loss, young love, and life on the fringes. Caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it, Charlie must learn to navigate those wild and poignant roller-coaster days known as growing up.
A years-long #1 New York Times bestseller, an American Library Association Best Book for Young Adults and Best Book for Reluctant Readers, and with millions of copies in print, this novel for teen readers (or “wallflowers” of more-advanced age) will make you laugh, cry, and perhaps feel nostalgic for those moments when you, too, tiptoed onto the dance floor of life.
I read this book (last year!) because a friend recommended it, and I’d been curious about it already. I already owned a copy, so it was an easy choice. One of the few things I knew about the book going in was that it’s been challenged or banned a LOT in schools, so I figured there would be some heavy content.
My copy of THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER has editorial reviews on the first page, so those were the first thing I read. Let me just say I have some questions for the person who reviewed this book for the LA Times. This is from the review: “Charlie is such a completely good, pure human being… In this culture where adolescence is a dirty word, I hope nothing bad happens to this kid.”
I’m not sure I read the same book that person did, because like… wow. SO MANY BAD THINGS HAPPENED TO CHARLIE!! It makes me wonder, does this person think those things weren’t so bad? Did this person accidentally skip those scenes or something? Not to spoil the story or anything, but seriously. This is not a light read. It’s a compelling, aching read. I think it lives up to the comparisons to Holden Caulfield in CATCHER IN THE RYE. But I’d never call it light.
Please do not pick up this book thinking you’ll make it to the back cover carrying the hope that nothing bad will happen to Charlie.
So… what did I love about this book? I loved the friendships between Charlie, Sam, and Patrick. I liked the way they were protective of each other and listened to each other. In the relationship between Sam and Charlie especially, I liked the way she challenged him to take action and make choices for himself. I liked that she tried not to judge him as he struggled to figure things out.
I think readers who enjoyed LOOKING FOR ALASKA by John Green or SURRENDER YOUR SONS by Adam Sass will like this book.
Content Notes for The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Content warning for suicide, rape, sexual abuse, homophobic slurs, graphic violence, alcohol and drug use. Details below.
Recommended for Ages 16 up.
One of Charlie’s best friends, Patrick, is gay.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
Extreme profanity used pretty frequently.
Kissing between boy and girl. Kissing between two boys. References to sex between two boys. A couple scenes shows making out between a boy and girl without their shirts. In one scene, they touch each other sexually.
One scene shows a boy raping a girl. In another scene, a character remembers being sexually abused as a child. Other scenes reference the fact that a character was sexually abused and that it ruined her life.
There’s a reference late in the book to the sexual abuse of a child, but it’s referred to as a man “fooling around” with the child, which implies that it isn’t criminal or serious, which it is.
A boy hits Charlie’s sister. Charlie beats up a kid at school who was bullying him. A boy’s father walks in on him having sex with another boy and begins hitting him. A boy directs a homophobic slur at another boy. He and his friends beat the boy up. Charlie joins the fight trying to even the odds against his friend.
Early in the book we learn that one of Charlie’s friends committed suicide. He gave Charlie a poem before he died which includes a graphic description of suicide at the end of it.
A boy begins using alcohol and drugs daily. Charlie drinks alcohol with his friends, smokes pot, and tries LSD. Sam and Patrick smoke cigarettes, too. Charlie begins smoking cigarettes.
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