Badkittyuno’s #CBR5 Review #05: The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky


I really wanted to like this book. I kind of did at first. Lots of quirky characters, a dysfunctional family and a loving lit teacher. But throughout the book, Charlie (our wallflower) just did not seem to exhibit any kind of growth, and it began to frustrate me. Like I was cheering for the kid, and he just could not get his shit together.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower, for those who haven’t read it or seen the recent movie, is a series of letters written to an anonymous friend by our boy Charlie about his life as a 15 year old starting high school. Charlie experiences a lot of anxiety — some of it seems justified, some of it made me want to shake him a little bit — and has trouble connecting to his peers and family. He cries a lot. He’s very smart, but struggles with school. He makes mix tapes. Then he meets up with some other social outcasts and begins to explore of world of sex, drugs and the Rocky Horror Picture Show.
My issue was this: once Charlie meets these kids, nothing really changes. He starts smoking, sure. But he doesn’t seem to be able to handle things any better. He doesn’t understand people or himself any better. He still cries A LOT. About 3/4 of the way through, I started wondering, “What’s the point?”.
A lot of people have made a big deal about the big reveal at the end, which I won’t spoil for you here. I certainly didn’t see it coming. But while it explained some things about Charlie’s personality, it didn’t explain *enough* and came too late to really make a difference for me as a reader. Overall, I felt simply frustrated at the end.

2 thoughts on “Badkittyuno’s #CBR5 Review #05: The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

  1. I read this beek back when I was 17 and really enjoyed it, but didn’t really know why… I think I was still pretty connected to the weird emotions of high school and all that jazz. But when I tried to reread this last year, I was sort of uncomfortable with it, as there is clearly something not quite right with Charlie and I struggled to understand the entire time. And I’d have to agree that the explanation given at the end doesn’t quite seem to cut it or account for everything.

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