Summary: This book, narrated in the voice of a 15-year-old boy named Charlie in the form of letters, tells the story of his first year of high school—the troubles, excitement and challenges. This book explores themes of bullying, love, strife, friendship, and new beginnings. Charlie goes into high school friendless and still reeling from the death of his best friend Michael who had recently committed suicide. Soon though, Charlie meets a funny, sarcastic senior named Patrick and his sweet stepsister, Sam. They quickly form a close friendship and Charlie starts going to parties with their group. Charlie follows his new friends’ habits, drinking, smoking, doing drugs and listening to rock music. Also, Charlie forms a strong bond with his English teacher Bill who recognizes his giftedness and love of reading and writing. Towards the end of his freshman year, a disconcerting family secret surfaces causing Charlie significant psychological and emotional distress and pain. Throughout the book, Charlie learns many lessons about life, friends, and how to reconcile past heartache. In Charlie’s last letter, he ends with optimism; he hopes to find new friends in sophomore year, forgive and forget the wrongs of the past, and develop into a changed person who is going to engage with the world around him rather than just being a wallflower.
Evaluation: I really enjoyed this book for many reasons. One reason I liked it was because it was written in the form of letters to an anonymous reader using the second person (you), which made it unique and more engaging. Even though many teenagers would not have experienced the things Charlie faces throughout the course of this book, many of the topics it covers are ones that many teenagers do face today, making it relatable to a broader audience. The style in which the author writes the book also contributes to the reader being able to relate to Charlie, the protagonist, regardless of their own experiences. It is written in a very straightforward, open way, with Charlie communicating all his feelings quite directly to an anonymous reader. Throughout the story, the connection between Charlie and this reader become increasingly intimate, leading the reader to believe that they are the one that Charlie is communicating with.
Recommendations: Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher, Hard Love by Ellen Wittlinger, Brave New Girl by Louisa Luna
Summary The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky is about a teenager named Charlie who is starting his first year of high school and writes to an anonymous person who he can talk about how he is feeling to and to try and help himself through high school. Charlie goes into high school with good intentions but finds that things don’t go as he planned and doesn’t really have any friends besides his English teacher Bill. But Charlie first meets his soon to be good friend Patrick in his woodshop class, Charlie finds Patrick funny as he is sarcastic to the teacher and just tries to make his peers laugh. Things really start to look up for Charlie when he decides to go to a football game by himself but sees Patrick and decides to sit by him. Patrick chats with Charlie and soon introduces him to his step-sister Sam. Patrick invites Charlie to come to a party after the game with him and Sam, at the party Charlie walk in on Patrick and the football star Brad kissing and later Patrick realizes that Charlie does not mind and just understanding, earning the title of Wallflower. After the party Patrick, Charlie, and Sam drive through a tunnel while listening to music and Charlie describes himself as feeling infinite. Charlie begins to meet other people in the group and gets to know Sam better and starts to have feelings for her but does not really express them. Charlie eventually dates Mary Elizabeth a good friends of Patrick, and Sam. Though Charlie doesn’t really like her he doesn’t want to hurt her and continues on with the relationship. (…SPOILER ALERT: Don’t read the rest unless you want to learn the ending of the book!…) One night at a get together Charlie is dared to kiss the prettiest girl in the room and instead of kissing his girlfriend Mary Elizabeth he kisses Sam, this is when his feelings for Sam become apparent. Patrick tells Charlie to stay away for a while to let things cool off and Charlie dose just that. A while later while hanging out with Bob, Bob tells Charlie about how Patrick and Brad were caught together by Brad’s dad and that Brad’s dad beat him for being with another man. At lunch Patrick passes by Brad sitting with his friends and one of them trip him. Patrick gets up and is shocked that Brad said nothing knowing that they both have feeling for each other, but instead Brad calls Patrick a fag and a Patrick lashes out and punches Brad. Brads friends gang up on Patrick and start to hit him; Charlie comes over and defends Patrick. Sam approaches Charlie a thanks him for defending Patrick Charlie says he blacked out and doesn’t remember anything from the fight and writes that he blacked out like this before but say they should be friends again. After the fight Charlie and Patrick start to hang out a lot more, Patrick taking Charlie to things like gay bars and clubs and Patrick kisses Charlie suddenly but Charlie understands that Patrick’s sad about Brad. Towards the end of the school year Sam gets accepted into Penn State and at her graduation party after everyone is gone Sam and Charlie go to her room and she ask Charlie why he never asked her out if he liked her so much . Charlie explains that he thought she didn’t want that but then Sam ask what did he want and he just wanted to see her happy but she explains that he need to do what he wants to do and not put everyone before him. Charlie and Sam kiss and when they are both naked on her bed Sam touches Charlie and Sam ask him if he is ok and she lays him down because he looks sick. The next morning Sam is still worried about Charlie but has to continue on and everyone says goodbye to Sam and Patrick. Charlie decides to go home and black out, when he wakes up he’s in a hospital and is told that his parents found him naked on the couch in a trance and he wouldn’t snap out. Charlie stays in the hospital for another two months talking to a physiatrist about his life and mainly about Aunt Helen. Though the book doesn’t say directly Charlie figures out that he was molested as a child by Aunt Helen. Charlie goes on to write that he has some bad days in hospital and some good ones like when his brother and sister come in. Finally when he leaves he calls Patrick because Sam is supposed to be in town and he wants to hang out with them again. They all go to Big Boy and then to then to the tunnel Patrick pulls over and Charlie climbs in the back and they drive through the tunnel, and though Charlie can hear the good music and see downtown he doesn’t care because there again he feels infinite.
Evaluation The Perks of Being a Wallflower is one of my favorite books and if I had to give to a rating on a scale of 1-10 it would be a solid 10. Some people would say that’s too generous and it lacks some elements that come from other great pieces of literature, and yes it is no Hamlet but it was more of a book that me being the reader could really connect to and was just enjoyable to read. The Perks of Being a Wallflower has such a rich story of a boy who makes friends and has a good life and then has it all come crashing down and then back up again that I couldn’t put it down for one second.