Feeling Bookish: The Perks of Being a Wallflower Review

Feeling Bookish: The Perks of Being a Wallflower Review

Isabella Wollfarth

Following my last article, I wanted to write a book report about my favorite book The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, in case you wanted to know more about it. This is my opportunity to share its secrets, my love and an overall description about the world of Charlie. The book’s overall format is very different from other books. It does not have a continuous story but more excerpts written in the form of letters written over courses in time. The reader is not sure who the letters are for or who Charlie is because he says in the letter that he prefers to stay anonymous. He first gives an overall description of his life and a bit of a spiral of emotions he currently feels. This begins to lead the reader into wonder as to who Charlie is and what is going on. As the book progresses the reader can infer little bits and pieces about Charlie’s life and personality. For example, the reader soon comes to learn about Charlie’s critical and thoughtful mind. Charlie is very observant and details in his thoughts conveyed through his letters. He has a very analytical mind and uses it to comprehend situation he is dealing with in real life. The reader also sees that Charlie is a wallflower. He much prefers reading To Kill a Mockingbird given to him by his advanced English teacher, Mr. Anderson, or as Charlie calls him, Bill. He does not have a strong connection with any of his family members except his Aunt Helen who died just a few years before. He talks about his Aunt Helen on many occasions. He describes her as a very thoughtful and loving person. He also mentions that Aunt Helen had “boy problems” that he was not allowed to talk about or mention in front of her or anyone. In fact when he did mention it once his dad slapped him which his father has never done before.

Charlie is by himself in the first parts of the book until he starts high school. He soon comes to meet two upperclassman named Sam and Patrick who end up showing him important lessons and helping him develop in high school. Sam and Patrick are both very different than Charlie. Both are more interested in having fun and smoking than they are worrying about analytical things like Charlie does. Nonetheless they accept Charlie with open arms and makes him feel special which no one else has done before except for Charlie’s favorite person his deceased Aunt Helen. He soon starts to have a strong bond with Patrick and Sam and even starts to fall in love with Sam. Although when he tells sam of his love, she tells him, in a joking way that he should not think of her like that. Charlie immediately obeys and never tries to pursue his love after these moments. Along with Sam and Patrick, Charlie becomes friends with their friend group which includes Mary Elizabeth, Craig, Bob, and Alice. He starts to develop his own little world within this group of friends. One tradition that he learns to love with Sam and Patrick is standing in the back of Patrick’s truck while they drive through the tunnel with the wind blowing at his face. He describes this moment as a feeling of being truly infinite.

Later on in the novel, the reader seems to notice some strange things about Charlie. For instance, Charlie often has the problem of getting very upset very easily. He even mentions how sometimes it is so much that his mom has to calm him down. But when he most gets upset is on his birthday which is right before Christmas. His sudden burst of sadness usually starts off with his thoughts of Aunt Helen. When he was really little, as said earlier, his Aunt Helen was his favorite person. One of the reasons he loved her so much is she was much more caring over the rest of his family. Charlie’s birthday is right before Christmas his family usually only got him one present but his Aunt Helen always got him two presents. One night when she went to go get Charlie’s present, died in a car crash. Ever since she has died Charlie has had much trouble not feeling responsible for her death. This is why not only does he get most upset on his birthday but he generally hates his birthday as a whole. This guilt and spiral of emotions can lead him to do crazy things. In fact in one part of the book he walked outside of a party to go home and was found collapsed outside in the morning. Another time he was so overwhelmed with the thought of Aunt Helen he fell unconscious on his couch naked watching the tv that wasn’t on. No one not even his family can explain why he gets so upset more extreme than other times.

Fast forward everything seems to be going well until Sam and Patrick are getting ready to move on to college while Charlie still has to finish high school. Charlie says his goodbyes to everyone then goes to talk and say goodbye to the most important to him, Sam. He goes and says his goodbyes and eventually Charlie kisses Sam but then after she kisses back he stops her. He doesn’t understand why but then his head starts to hurt and he seems to be having a panic attack. He then sleeps at Sam house because he was to sick and unstable to go him. The reader than is revealed of a dream Charlie has of his Aunt Helen. He doesn’t understand the dream and wakes up. He then goes immediately home feeling more unstable than he did the night before and wakes up in the hospital. In this part the reader learns that Aunt Helen used to molest Charlie when he was only seven every Saturday when they watched television.

Not only is this novel extremely powerful in its character development and storyline but in each character. Charlie’s character is extremely extraordinary in every way and personally I would have loved to meet him. This story shows a calm wallflower suffering from his inner demons. No one seems to understand why he does the things he does and neither does he. He did not understand why it was so hard to be happy and why it was not coming easily to him. Charlie is such a hidden wonder and such a caring soul. We see this when even after he figures out what his Aunt Helen did he is so forgiving and content. In some way when Charlie realizes what his Aunt Helen did he gets a chance to finally let go of something that was holding him back. He says he is going to try to participate in life now and be truly there. Before doing this, he was not “truly there” he was still sitting and watching tv with his Aunt Helen. He never felt the true happiness and feeling of being in the moment and being happy. He even describes a scene at the end where he is again driving through the tunnel, letting the wind brush over his face and for the first time he feels truly there and having the experience.

I think there are multiple lessons one can learn from this book, one is the lesson is to live in the moment. Don’t let sadness and discontent control your joy or hold you back. Even though Charlie couldn’t control his sadness he eventually learned about living in the moment and the true emotion of happiness. Another lesson, “Be a filter not a sponge;” take in the good things and let go of the bad. And the last most important less, it is okay to be sad. No one is happy all the time and I think, personally, that people think they should have to be happy all the time. But I think a part of us being human is all of our emotions, including our sadness. In the end, it makes us stronger and better people. So be happy, be sad and live in the moment, because a truly beautiful feeling is feeling infinite like Charlie did and not letting your sadness, anger, or discontent wear you down or keep you from experiencing life.