Coming of age stories are something as old as time, and The Perks of Being a Wallflower exemplifies the theme and genre. In this enticing novel by Stephen Chbosky, readers follow the life of Charlie as he navigates the trials and tribulations of freshmen year. We are swept into his world through a series of letters that give us a deeper understanding of his thoughts and feelings. He struggles to adapt in this new environment and tries to find his place in dangerous terrain.
Set in 1991, life is different than that of the 2010s, but Charlie’s journey is still relatable for teens today. Between drugs, underage drinking, and sex, this book covers theme (and issues) that still present today. This story and its theme stands the test of time. It is a story that last and that people of all (appropriate) ages, from all generations can relate to and enjoy.
Being told in the form of letters, all beginning with “Dear friend,” and ending with “Love always, Charlie”, it truly feels like you have a real connection to Charlie and almost live through his experiences with him. By creating this connection between reader and character, Chbosky pulls the reader into the book and makes the story come to life in new ways
We also see Charlie mature through the style of writing. Although all of the book is told in letters, the style of writing reflects Charlie’s journey. In the beginning it the writing style appears childish and simple, yet as the story progresses, the style becomes more complex and mature, just like Charlie. In addition to an interesting and engaging writing style, the book is also filled with extremely memorable quotes including: “We accept the love we think we deserve,” and “I swear in that moment we were infinite”.
All of the characters in the story are complex and interesting. There wasn’t one character that I didn’t like, if not love. They are all relatable on some level, and all different in their own way. This diverse cast of characters adds to the story and to Charlie’s growth as an individual.
Dealing with mature themes, this book is definitely aimed at a mature audience. It deals with dark and sometimes disturbing themes. This book is for teens. No one under the age of fifteen should read this book due to its themes and topics.
Overall, The Perks of Being a Wallflower lived up to the hype. It is enjoyable but serious at the same time while also creating a relatable story. Chbosky understands how to create a story that is relatable to readers of different ages and walks of life. I would give this book a 7.5/10 stars.