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on June 30, 2000
I read The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky, in April of my sophomore year at college. A friend lent it to me and I had read it within twelve hours. This book reaches inside of you and pulls everything to the surface. It is a beautiful and painful story about a 15 year old boy, Charlie, moving through his freshmen year of highschool. It is written in letter form to an unknown friend. Charlie is always completely honest, whether he is describing his first "beer" party where he witnessed a girl being raped by her boyfriend, or explaining masturbation and his excitement for this newfound "activity." Charlie is a wallflower who observes people and feels very deeply for the experiences occuring around him. His favorite Aunt Helen died in a car accident when he was six, and he holds himself accountable, and his best friend committed suicide a year before he began the letters. His English teacher realizes Charlie's potential and brilliance and asks him to try and participate, which Charlie agrees to do. He becomes friends with two seniors Patrick and Samantha and begins to experience dances, parties, the Rocky Horror Picture Show, pot, love, bad trips and sexuality. We feel exhilerated when Charlie describes his happy moments, and we are swallowed in pain when Charlie is overwhelmed by his depression. Charlie's realizations are eye opening for us, and we are so captivated and immersed in his life that his life and stories become a very real experience. This book is about moments, and being as much alive within each moment as possible. It is about looking around us at the world and the people and appreciating that we don't know what their lives are like, and the pain and happiness that they experience day to day, so we shouldn't judge them but accept them and appreciate them. A favorite section of this book, for me, was when Charlie describes the movie It's A Wonderful Life, and how he wished the movie had been about one of the less heroic characters so the audience could have seen the meaning that this person's life held. That moment is just one example of Charlie's amazing intuition. This book should not be limited to a certain "category" of people. I truly believe that it would be understood, appreciated, and loved by everyone aged 12 (+ or - a few) and up regardless of gender, race, sexuality, etc. This book changes you, if only for a moment, but you are not the same upon completion, and you become more appreciative of life then ever.
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on December 7, 1999
When I finished The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chybosky, I sat there in a stunned silence. The book was strongly powerful in a manner that diary or letter style books rarely achieve. There is usually a sense of implausibility in those types of books that Charlie's character completely negated. When trying to describe Charlie the mind suddenly reels, he's honest. Completely and utterly genuine in his perceptions and most of his actions. Charlie is also and emotional basket case that somehow manages to attract a special group of friends to him. A group of voluntary outcasts that go through the same problems teenagers face everywhere. Sex, drugs, relationships and acceptance figure heavily into everyone's lives, despite their personal beliefs on those subjects. I would like to mention Stephen's portrayal of Patrick, I was pleased to see the sbuject of homosexuality treated in such a plain manner. It was accepted as a fact and only the feelings invovled in the situations were important. I would recomment this book to a wide range of people, old or young, straight or gay, conservative or liberal. It was a pleasure to read and I enjoyed it immensely.
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on July 12, 2001
I bought this book for my 13 year old daughter but wanted to read it first to see if it is appropriate It is a wonderfully written book in which Charlie, a deeply sensitive boy, finds true friends and learns to live, to love, to lose, and move on. The author gives this boy a voice and it's magnificent. I so appreciate Charlie's depth of emotions. I have a sensitive, emotional son and will want him to read this book in a couple years. Suicide, homosexuality, infatuation, deep deep friendships, finding yourself and re-finding yourself are all themes in this book. The author captures "moments" of adolescence -- those incredible high moments that might last just minutes -- and makes them so real. If only more kids could put a voice to these feelings. One reviewer doesn't think this book captures adolescence in the 90's -- I don't know because I'm a Mom . . . but I don't care. Charlie deals with drugs, smoking, drinking, messing up friendships, feeling alone, and uncovers family problems he has to deal with. And he deals with it as a young man who can stand back, look at it all, and make decisions about what he has experienced. I want my daughter to read it, maybe now or maybe in a couple years, for the hope it left me with. Charlie survived being hopelessly in love with one of his best friends. It hurt and he felt it and it didn't defeat him. With everything thrown at kids in jr. high and high school this book might just help them survive it a little more intact. I think I'm going to go talk to my kids right now . . . .
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on January 14, 2005
This is the toughest review that I have ever written. This book has many perks that make it a good bathtub read (really, it can be easily finished under 4 hours) but at the same time there is a certain something missing that makes this book incomplete. The characters are interesting even though shallow to a certain degree. But in a weird way they are realisticaly shallow, meaning that like every other human being on this planet, they have moments where they think and act in an stupid manner without any meaningful way. Charlie sometimes shines with brilliance in his letters but at other times doesn't even think twice, for example when he tries LSD he doesn't say how he felt about it to begin with. Charlie is confused an naive. I have personally identified with that part of him because I myself spent my high school years confused and naive. What this book does is show one way to grow up. It shows that our lives are made complex by others and external events but most of all by ourselves. One thing that does not add up is that the protagonist is apparently a genius although his writing is sub-par. It is dry and missing the color that I would expect the writing of a freshman genius would be like. The story has been told many times and this author definitly has potential but he is missing something... maybe the story is missing a feeling that Charlie is alive. The writing style makes him too two-dimentional, the events are told marvelously and even though Charlie expresses his feelings they are missing a certain something, a certain desire, that human being generaly display.
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on December 31, 2014
This would be 0 stars if I could post, this is not the original edition you will be getting, it is movie edition. False advertisement. Do not buy!
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on December 29, 2011
I was excited to begin The Perks of Being a Wallflower because, well--I was a wallflower. It also peaked my interest because one of my favorite books is Catcher in the Rye and anytime a book is compared to it, I have to quickly and furiously read it because I am a) mad that anything could be compared to Catcher (kidding!) and b) extremely curious, hoping for a new favorite book.

Well. It failed on both accounts. It is only like The Catcher in the Rye in that Catcher is clearly the author's favorite book. It read like fan fiction for Catcher in the Rye, as perhaps some sort of sappy, unconvincing prequel. This kind of disgusted me. I could picture the author pacing his "writing room" which would consist of a few novels like The Catcher in the Rye, David Copperfield (which he has never read, guaranteed) and a copy of Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul III. Then he'd snap his fingers and proclaim in a hearty voice: "I've got it! I'm going to write an angsty, coming-of-age tale. And PEOPLE WILL RELATE."

So, he decided to incorporate the basics: teenage suicide (in which the narrator never really seems to care that much about); a loner (who for the love of God is not even a loner or a wallflower... he seems just fine with making friends to me; he's actually very often the center of attention), a crush on an extremely pretty, unobtainable, perfect Senior; this same Senior's gay step-brother; a dysfunctional family; a sister who gets pregnant and has an abortion (which is only mentioned when it is actually happening and never... ever... again); oh, and this same sister also has Daddy issues and gets hit by her boyfriend; remember GayBrother? He has an affair with the football quarterback who is secretly gay (apparently all football players have a hidden penis-fetish)... Basically, think of everything that didn't happen to you in high school, but did happen on Degrassi and you will have The Perks of Being a Socially Awkward but Extremely Loveable Teenager who is Easily Accepted by the Underrated-but-Coolest People in High School.

When I first started reading this, I though that the narrator suffered from a severe mental illness. Something like autism. Which would totally be fine if that's what it was about¸ but I'm afraid not. In fact, it's kind of about the opposite: Charlie, our faithful (?) narrator, is actually somewhat of a child prodigy. I'm not sure when this happened because I thought he actually quite sucked at the English language and forming a basic, non run-on sentence. Maybe this is why I'm not a teacher. In any case, I was surprised to learn that he was not mentally handicapped.

Of course, we do learn later that he was molested by his aunt (which was not a surprise, by the way... more like just another eye-rolling inducing moment). And I'm sure this would severely mess a person up. But not in the way it's portrayed in the book. Being molested wouldn't make you extremely smart at reading and understanding books and yet unable to write a decent letter. I CANNOT RELATE, CHBOSKY.

I mean, this book wasn't absolutely terrible or anything. There were some lovely observations in it. But I don't think I could recommend it.
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on September 4, 2014
It was really hard for me to like this book at all and I REALLY wanted to. The concept of a narrator telling his story through letters was intriguing and different to what I've read before. My problem was that the whole premise seemed completely implausible. I know, I know. Many teenagers go through a lot of experimenting with drugs, sexuality, etc.; the thing is though it all seemed ridiculous when I really thought about it. All in the course of his freshman year of high school he was dealing with his beast friend's suicide; befriended by a cool group of seniors and then went on trying out drugs and drinking and smoking; getting hooked up by cool senior friends with another senior and breaks her heart; then experimenting with homosexuality; and-- oh wait-- he was also molested by his aunt. Like I said many teenagers go through one or more of these experiences (I'm no exception), but for it all to take place in the span of a year seemed unrealistic. Maybe I was more sheltered than I thought but it seemed over the top. Haven't seen the movie yet, not sure if I should bother anymore :(
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on July 21, 2000
i read this book a few days ago. i started it at 12:30 that night and read it straight until morning. i would be the first to admit that i'm an avid reader; reading constantly and sharing my opinions (solicited or unsolicited) about that books that i have read. i'm very critical and terribly hard to please, but yet this is the first book that i honestly COULDN'T PUT DOWN. it was fascinating, being a teenager of about Charlie's age, to read something that didn't preach, exaggerate, lie, or hide the truths of life. this book best described the side of highschool where they experience the "forbidden" things: drugs, alchohol, sex, and the rocky horror picture show. it had the raw aspect to it, Charlie was totally honest in the letters and showed that he was overwhelmed, struggling and desperate at times as many teenagers are. though it is easy to dismiss his type of friends as misfits, outcasts, misguided, they were true friends to him and helped him through a terribly difficult time. this is what high school is really like for many even though adults don't want to admit it. Charlie is such a great kid, you grow to love him and his friends as the letters progress and you feel pain when he does, happiness when Charlie is happy and betrayed when he is so. this isn't just a book, it's an experience and i promise you will be changed. i don't promise you'll like it, because if you don't want to acknowledge what you may be afriad of you won't, but you will be changed. that i can guarantee.
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on September 21, 2013
I specifically ordered the book with the Original cover. When I received it, it was the New cover with the picture of The Movie on the cover. I was not happy since I specifically asked for the original Cover. I paid more the the "Edition Original".
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on September 30, 2003
I'll admit at first I was a bit put off by the overall "sweetness" of the main character, who I felt was created as a "sympathetic" movie-character fabrication (he loves his mom, loves his dad, loves his sister, loves his made me roll my eyes, seeing how "good" and "nice" this boy was; not since Leave It To Beaver have I seen such a "goodness" portrayed), but in the end the book won me over -- and I was moved by it. And that's what counts. The novel works! The only other book to affect me this way, despite my early misgivings, was The Losers' Club by Richard Perez. In much the same way the protagonist of that book was portrayed as a "good guy," a hapless loser -- and I couldn't get into it until the last half. There, too, I was finally affected by the main character -- and the book as whole. So you never know until the end. I say this to anyone reading The Perks of Being a Wallflower -- hang in there. I guarantee you'll be moved by this novel!
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