This coming-of-age story centers around 15-year-old introvert Charlie as they attempt to navigate the highs and lows of adolescence, self-discovery, and the people that they love. Both touchingly pure and painfully honest, Charlie recounts their first year of high school in the form of letters to an anonymous person, and through their writing, touches on subject material that many other young adult novels fail to address. Being young, being scared, being alive, beginning to try to understand how to fit into the world, are all prominent themes in this novel. As Charlie begins to find their place, perhaps their unique perspective might help you find yours as well. Content warning: this book includes substance use, abuse (taking many different forms), queerphobia, suicide, and abortion. Recommended By Anna F., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
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.
This haunting novel about the dilemma of passivity vs. passion marks the stunning debut of a provocative new voice in contemporary fiction: The Perks of Being a Wallflower.
This is the story of what it's like to grow up in high school. More intimate than a diary, Charlie's letters are singular and unique, hilarious and devastating. We may not know where he lives. We may not know to whom he is writing. All we know is the world he shares. Caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it puts him on a strange course 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.
Through Charlie, Stephen Chbosky has created a deeply affecting coming-of-age story, a powerful novel that will spirit you back to those wild and poignant roller coaster days known as growing up.
"The Perks of Being a Wallflower is part of an MTV Books series that targets teen-age readers. But it is more mature than most young adult literature and can be enjoyed by older readers as well." Denise Kersten, USA Today
"Charlie develops from an observant wallflower into his own man of action, and, with the help of a therapist, he begins to face the sexual abuse he had experienced as a child. This report on his life will engage teen readers for years to come." School Library Journal
A series of letters to an unknown correspondent reveals the coming-of-age trials of a high-schooler named Charlie.
About the Author
Stephen Chbosky grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and graduated from the University of Southern California's Filmic Writing Program. His first film, The Four Corners of Nowhere, premiered at the 1995 Sundance Film Festival and went on to win Best Narrative Feature honors at the Chicago Underground Film Festival. He is the recipient of the Abraham Polonsky Screenwriting Award for his screenplay Everything Divided as well as a participant in the Sundance Institute's filmmakers' lab for his current project, Fingernails and Smooth Skin. Chbosky lives in New York. The Perks of Being a Wallflower is his first novel.
Reading Group Guide
The Perks of Being a Wallflower
By Stephen Chbosky
1. Why do you think Charlie wants to remain anonymous? Have there been times when you wish you could have, or did?
2. Would you be friends with Charlie? Why or why not?
3. What do we learn about Michael? Do you sympathize with Charlie's reaction?
4. What do you think about Susan's relationship with her boyfriend? When Charlie tells Bill, did you think Bill would call his parents? Do you think that was the right thing to do? What do you think of her parent's reaction?
5. Discuss Charlie's reaction to his brother and sister throwing a party. What did you think about the couple in his room? What about Charlie's response?
6. What do you think being a wallflower is? Do you agree with Bob's definition?
7. How do you feel about Patrick and Brad's relationship? Do you think Patrick is understanding of Brad's feelings? What chance at a relationship do they have? Do you think that you can have a 'true' relationship built on secrets?
8. Charlie mentions that his dad "had glory days once." What do you think Charlie's glory days will be? Do you think he is worried about not having any?
9. Discuss Charlie's family holidays. Are there elements that are universal to every family dynamic? Has anything about Charlie's family surprised you? Describe aunt Helen. What kind of person is she?
10. Talk about the mixed tapes in the story. Are you familiar with the songs and bands? Why do you think Charlie speaks about them so often?
11. Do you like that the story is told through letters? Do you feel you know the kind of person Charlie is? His friends and family?
12. Several important issues come up during the course of the book, ranging from molestation to drug use. How does Charlie deal with these? How have the issues affected his friends and family?
13. Charlie has a few breakdowns. Do you feel hopeful for him? How much of his past explains his present?
14. Charlie's friends are moving away at the end of the story. Where does this leave Charlie? Can he make new friends?
15. Bill is very supportive of Charlie. How does this affect Charlie?