The Perks of Being a Wallflower

The Perks of Being a Wallflower Book Cover The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Stephen Chbosky
Epistolary fiction
Pocket Books
February 1st, 1999

The novel revolves around Charlie who writes letters to an unnamed friend. Charlie, who is entering his freshman year, is sensitive and socially awkward.  He is experiencing a trauma in which his deceased aunt Helen was fatally killed in a car accident.  His family seldom interacts with him, particularly his taciturn father. Altogether, Charlie struggles with trauma, ignorance, and adapting to an unusual environment.  Charlie introduces himself to a senior named Patrick, whom Charlie remembers from his middle school years.  He quickly befriends Patrick, along with his half-sister Sam.  He then becomes infatuated with the girl.  Both act as his guide and trusted companions throughout the plot.  Charlie’s English teacher, Bill, finds him to be an outstanding student, for Charlie is intrinsically motivated in his class.  Charlie also takes a liking to Bill as well, participating in small chats with him and sharing thoughts on books.  In return, Bill assigns him special homework made only for him, and allows Charlie to call him by his first name.  Charlie becomes involved with high school activities, such as reckless partying.  Patrick and Sam introduce him to illegal drugs, intoxication, and people with different types of sexual orientation.  Topics like these repeat in the story.  At the end of the school year, Sam and Charlie become excessively intimate.  One of their activities together inadvertently triggers a trauma, and Charlie becomes catatonic.  After being hospitalized, he reveals the truth of why and how he ended up like he is in the present.

Before reading the first ten pages, I thought that this book would be entertaining and impressive for an epistolary novel, for it received positive reviews.  However, my expectations shattered after page two. What the reviews did not say was that the book contained many sensitive and disturbing topics.  The content material inside surprised me.  The vocabulary inside the book was simple to understand, but also included bits of vulgar slang.  Parts of this book were okay, however.  For instance, one of the only features I enjoyed was the uniqueness of the main character.  He did not act or speak like a normal person, and I liked the limited perspective in the plot.  The age group I would recommend this to would be after age thirteen, for I assume that is the age where people can handle sensitive topics like the ones in the book.  I rate this book four out of ten stars.

1. Why did Charlie burst into tears when he discussed Michael’s death with his counselor?
1a.  He cried because he was filled with regret for not being the person Michael could have talked to. (4)
2. Why did Charlie apologize to same when he dreamed of her?
2a.  He felt guilty for seeing Sam scantily clad in his dream “without her permission”, so he wanted to say that he was sorry. (21)
3. Why did Bill, Charlie’s English teacher, call Charlie’s parents and explain how his sister had a secret boyfriend?
3a.  Bill thought that there was a problem when Charlie told him about his life, so he revealed the truth to Charlie’s mother. (24-25)
4. Why did Charlie’s sister go from being mean to the boy who liked her to being soft and gentle?
4a.  The boy stood up for himself as he smacked Charlie’s sister, giving her the feeling that he had changed from being kind to assertive. (11)
5. What did Bob put in brownie that he offered to Charlie?
5a.  Bob had secret inserted a drug, presumably cocaine. (35)

wallflower (title cover)
corpulent (14)
jaundice (14)
Camaro (4)
pragmatic (16)

6. Why does Bill continuously give Charlie new books?
6a. It is because Bill is biased towards Charlie and considers him as his best student. (77)
7. Why was the idea of Charlie driving for the rest of the trip the worst?
7a. It is because Charlie had turned sixteen the other day, without much experience of driving. (84)
8. Why was Charlie the only person who did not cry when his family was told that Aunt Helen died in a car crash?
8a.  He was more guilty than sad, for he thought that it was his fault, for he had asked her to buy him a gift. (95)
9. Why did Charlie’s sister find it insane that Charlie was smoking?
9a.  She found it strange that Charlie, a good boy, turned to drugs. She also found it nasty. (119)
10.  How did Charlie lose his girlfriend?
10a.  When he was dared to kiss the prettiest girl in the room, he kissed another person. (135)

unconventionally (80)
transcendental (83)
schizophrenic (101)
jaded (105)
objectification (114)

11. Why was Charlie given a month’s worth of detention?
11a.   Charlie was involved in a fight while trying to help his friend, so he got a punishment of detention (152).
12.  Why did Sam break up with her boyfriend?
12a.  She found out that he was dating several girls. (177)
13.  Why did Charlie’s cousins make fun at him?
13a.   Charlie refused to drink the alcoholic beverage that they offered to him, so they thought he was weakling. (186)
14.  Why can’t Charlie hold his emotions?
14a. It is because all of his friends are going to college. (200)
15.  Why did Charlie remain catatonic?
15a.  He suffered from a trauma caused by his aunt, and when he and Sam became excessively intimate, Sam unintentionally caused the trauma. (204)

rebuttal (158)
valedictorian (159)
cummerbund (163)
liberal (168)
retribution (183)