The Perks of Being a Wallflower: A Review

"The Perks of Being a Wallflower" by Stephen Chbosky is a coming-of-age epistolary novel that delves into the complexities of adolescence. Told through a series of letters, the protagonist, Charlie, shares his experiences and emotions as he navigates high school, friendships, and family dynamics. This heartwarming and deeply insightful novel resonates with readers of all ages, reminding us of our own journey through the tumultuous years of self-discovery.


Set in the early 1990s, the story revolves around Charlie, a 15-year-old introvert who starts his freshman year in high school. Charlie is a wallflower, an observer who stands on the sidelines, avoiding the spotlight. The novel is presented through letters written by Charlie to an anonymous recipient, providing an intimate look into his thoughts and feelings.

As the story unfolds, Charlie befriends a group of older students, including the eccentric Patrick and the free-spirited Sam, who help him break out of his shell. Throughout the novel, Charlie grapples with the challenges of adolescence, such as first love, sexuality, and the desire to fit in. He also confronts more serious issues like mental health, trauma, and loss.


Chbosky's characters are well-rounded and dynamic, with each undergoing growth and development throughout the story. Charlie, the protagonist, is a sensitive and intelligent young man who struggles with the death of his best friend and the lingering effects of his aunt's tragic passing. His letters reveal the depth of his emotions and the impact of the events in his life.

Sam and Patrick, Charlie's new friends, serve as catalysts for change in his life. Sam, a beautiful and kind-hearted senior, becomes the focus of Charlie's romantic affections, while Patrick, her gay stepbrother, introduces Charlie to the world of music, parties, and friendship. Both characters have their struggles, but their warmth and support help Charlie find his voice.


"The Perks of Being a Wallflower" explores various themes, including the power of friendship, the complexities of adolescence, and the importance of self-discovery. The novel emphasizes the transformative impact of friendship, illustrating how relationships can help individuals grow and overcome obstacles. The story also delves into the often overwhelming and confusing nature of adolescence, capturing the emotional turmoil and uncertainty that accompanies this period of life.

Mental health plays a significant role in the novel, with Charlie's experiences shining a light on the importance of understanding and addressing mental health issues. The story also tackles themes of sexuality, trauma, and loss, providing a realistic portrayal of the challenges that many young people face.

Writing Style

Chbosky's writing style is straightforward and emotionally raw. Through Charlie's letters, readers are given an unfiltered look into his thoughts and emotions, allowing for a deep connection with the character. Chbosky's use of the epistolary format also adds a sense of authenticity and intimacy to the story, making it feel as if Charlie is sharing his most private thoughts with the reader.


In conclusion, "The Perks of Being a Wallflower" is a poignant and powerful exploration of adolescence, friendship, and self-discovery. Stephen Chbosky's intimate and emotionally resonant writing style draws readers into Charlie's world, creating a deep connection with the character and his journey. This novel is a must-read for anyone who has experienced the challenges and triumphs of growing up, making it a timeless classic that will continue to resonate with readers for generations to come.