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The Perks of Being a Wallflower Paperback – Feb 1 1999
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What is most notable about this funny, touching, memorable first novel from Stephen Chbosky is the resounding accuracy with which the author captures the voice of a boy teetering on the brink of adulthood. Charlie is a freshman. And while's he's not the biggest geek in the school, he is by no means popular. He's a wallflower--shy and introspective, and intelligent beyond his years, if not very savvy in the social arts. We learn about Charlie through the letters he writes to someone of undisclosed name, age, and gender, a stylistic technique that adds to the heart-wrenching earnestness saturating this teen's story. Charlie encounters the same struggles that many kids face in high school--how to make friends, the intensity of a crush, family tensions, a first relationship, exploring sexuality, experimenting with drugs--but he must also deal with his best friend's recent suicide. Charlie's letters take on the intimate feel of a journal as he shares his day-to-day thoughts and feelings:
I walk around the school hallways and look at the people. I look at the teachers and wonder why they're here. If they like their jobs. Or us. And I wonder how smart they were when they were fifteen. Not in a mean way. In a curious way. It's like looking at all the students and wondering who's had their heart broken that day, and how they are able to cope with having three quizzes and a book report due on top of that. Or wondering who did the heart breaking. And wondering why.With the help of a teacher who recognizes his wisdom and intuition, and his two friends, seniors Samantha and Patrick, Charlie mostly manages to avoid the depression he feels creeping up like kudzu. When it all becomes too much, after a shocking realization about his beloved late Aunt Helen, Charlie retreats from reality for awhile. But he makes it back in due time, ready to face his sophomore year and all that it may bring. Charlie, sincerely searching for that feeling of "being infinite," is a kindred spirit to the generation that's been slapped with the label X. --Brangien Davis
From Publishers Weekly
A trite coming-of-age novel that could easily appeal to a YA readership, filmmaker Chbosky's debut broadcasts its intentions with the publisher's announcement that ads will run on MTV. Charlie, the wallflower of the title, goes through a veritable bath of bathos in his 10th grade year, 1991. The novel is formatted as a series of letters to an unnamed "friend," the first of which reveals the suicide of Charlie's pal Michael. Charlie's response--valid enough--is to cry. The crying soon gets out of hand, though--in subsequent letters, his father, his aunt, his sister and his sister's boyfriend all become lachrymose. Charlie has the usual dire adolescent problems--sex, drugs, the thuggish football team--and they perplex him in the usual teen TV ways. [...] Into these standard teenage issues Chbosky infuses a droning insistence on Charlie's supersensitive disposition. Charlie's English teacher and others have a disconcerting tendency to rhapsodize over Charlie's giftedness, which seems to consist of Charlie's unquestioning assimilation of the teacher's taste in books. In the end we learn the root of Charlie's psychological problems, and we confront, with him, the coming rigors of 11th grade, ever hopeful that he'll find a suitable girlfriend and increase his vocabulary.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Top Customer Reviews
I heard about this book through the internet. My friends always went on about it and I was always seeing quotes and pictures from it.. etc. I was again, searching for something to read that would hold my interest, and I just happened to think of this. I finally clicked on Amazon, got it a week later, and finished it that night. The way it's written makes it easy to absorb. I couldn't believe how great it was.
In a way, I guess you could say that the book changed my outlook on life. I don't know the exact reason how or why ... but it did. I started thinking differently and doing things differently, getting into different things (writing, music, etc.) and spending more time with my friends. Before all this I was as anti-social as they come. I hated leaving the house and I didn't WANT any friends. I guess after reading about Charlie and Patrick and Sam, and participating ... I decided to value my friends more, (or work to find a friendship like Charlie's and Patrick's and Sam's) and try to participate. And I guess it worked. But that's not the point.
PERKS is a great book. Maybe it will change YOUR life. You won't know until you read it. Click on Amazon, right now; it's worth your time. Also, I have to say thanks to the reviewer who suggested that other novel, THE LOSERS CLUB: Complete Restored Edition by Richard Perez, another great, enjoyable book that got under my skin, that I can't stop thinking about. (Best "used" book I ever bought!) PERKS and THE LOSERS' CLUB are now a permanent part of my home library.
Formatted to look like a series of letters to a friend, the form of 'Perks' is something totally different. Then there's the 'voice' that occurs throughout the novel, reminding me of Holden Caufield in a way. This is truly an unusual book and I'd recommend it to not only high school students, but really anyone, adults and the like, who enjoy a fun book.
Anyone who has ever felt left out and lonely, especially in high school (and who hasn't) will warm to this tale and how it's told. The writing is not great--not litarary--but it is honest and Chbosky makes us believe that we're actually reading the thoughts that have been put down on paper. The only other book to top this for me was J.T. McCrae's Katzenjammer which proved to be a wild ride and really "out there."
Much better than John Green's, The Fault in Our Stars (although this was pretty good).
I really don’t understand why this book was never assigned to us in high school. I mean, sure there was much to discuss and lessons to be learned from To Kill a Mockingbird, The Kite Runner, or The Chrysalids. But I’ve never felt that a book has make this much of an impact on me. I feel like a completely different person after having read it – in a good way!
While reading this, you feel like you are a diary. Charlie is this innocent, naive, and strange freshman who writes deeply personal letters to you, a stranger. The letters are all roller-coasters or emotions, thoughts, and stories. These letters essentially give us a look into his mind. He is just a boy who is trying to find happiness as he kind of just an observer of the world who struggles to actually “participate”.
Charlie is a really intriguing character as he looks at the world from a completely different point of view. He tries to find the good in everything, and when he doesn’t he holds onto god memories of the past. What makes him really special is that he does what is needed of him: he is a shoulder to cry on, he is a straight A student because his parents told him that they don’t have much money for college, he is a loyal friend, and he is gifted. There is no other way to put it.
What I love about this book is that it is not always forcing itself to be politically correct, but it does express the good in everyone. So there is drinking, drugs, smoking, abortion, domestic violence, sex, etc. But In context it just works. It shows a truthful view of the imperfect world we live in but still brings out the good within it.
Charlie’s year of letters have formed a perfect story about life. Please read it. It really is life changing.
P.S. the movie did not do the book justice!
Most recent customer reviews
I LOVED IT. It's an amazing book, a really deep story when we understand what teenagers feel. It is very well written, made me thik of The Catcher in the Rye by Salinger.Published 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
I loved this book, as does the 75 year old woman I bought the 2nd one for. Came on time. Even and in great conditionPublished 3 months ago by Shawn
This book deserves no less than five stars. It has easily become one of my favourite YA contemporaries! Read morePublished 4 months ago by Kyleigh