The Perks of Reading Perks

Emily S.

Staff Writer

The Perks of Being a Wallflower, written by Stephen Chbosky, could be considered the coming of age novel of the century. Charlie, the main character, tells readers all about his personal thoughts and experiences in a way that makes readers feel as if they have an intimate connection with him. While he tells his story through letter format, readers begin to see themselves feeling what he feels and imagining being in his shoes. Constantly bombarded with the question “What would I do?” readers grow more than they can possibly imagine while reading this book. After reading The Perks of Being Wallflower, readers will no longer think of events as then and now, but rather, readers will continue on thinking in terms of “before I read Perks and after I read Perks ES 1Perks.”

It must be hard to imagine how a book could alter someone’s thoughts and feelings so much, but the moving account of Charlie’s hard to handle life allows readers to relate in a way never before possible. While some readers’ stories are not quite as extreme, almost everyone has struggled with feeling alone at some point in his or her life. Charlie struggles continuously throughout the book with feeling alone and finding somewhere he will fit in. Of course he eventually does. During adolescence, many people find themselves and really discover who will stand by them and be their true friends. Charlie does finds himself and his friends in the book, along with falling in love for the first time, having his first girlfriend, struggling with loss, discovering good music, going on adventures, and really anything else that is expected from teenage years. All these events that so closely relate to each and every teenager’s experiences with high school and home life is what makes The Perks of Being a Wallflower so moving and so relatable.

This novel doesn’t just make an impression on book worms and the “normal” teenagers, but anyone and everyone can and will be positively affected in some way. All the cliques seen in everyday high school is represented in a way never before seen. Chbosky is brutally realistic in his representation of the high school that appears in the book. “It’s so much like real high school, it’s scary; however, it gives you a brand new insight on how teenagers tick,” says sophomore Alyssa Hall. The homosexual kids are picked on, people do drugs, people arPerks ES 3e beat up, and ultimately, there is no happy ending. This book really prepares readers for real life, where people are really capable of being hurt, and teaches them a lesson on how to treat others and treat themselves.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a modern classic that captures the defeats and victories one experiences while growing up, making this story one that captures an audience of all ages and not just teenagers. “Me and my mom both read it and loved it so much,” says junior Lidia Ellington. The Perks of Being a Wallflower really is a story that will move both teenagers and adults to laugh and cry right along with the characters.

The tears and laughter start with the young Charlie about to begin his first day of high school and follow him through the end of his freshman year. When he first begins high school, he is utterly alone and desperately trying to overcome multiple traumatic events from middle school: the death of his best friend and his aunt.  Once Charlie meets his two best friends, Sam and Patrick, his life slowly start to improve. Charlie no longer feels alone and is starting to become less and less anxious about his past. However, like always, high school drama gets the best of him. Charlie starts dating a girl, Mary Elizabeth, he really does not have romantic feelings towards, and slowly his social life is spiraling out of control. After following through on an impulse decision, he is expelled from his tight-knit group of friends and cut off from his first love, Sam. Finally though, in a feat of bravery, Charlie stands up for Patrick while he is being bullied and is welcomed back with open arms. Slowly as he becomes closer and closer with Sam, and her graduation draws closer, his anxiety returns. Readers are left with the last couple chapters, constantly wondering, “Will one dark secret ruin it all?”

This emotional story truly represents what high school is all about, towering highs to terrible lows, finding friends along with finding yourself, dealing with love and sexuality, drug and alcohol abuse, nearly everything everyday people struggle with while growing up.

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