SparkNotes Blog

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Lonks’ choice this week is a favorite of the Sparkitors!

Book #34: The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Author: Stephen Chbosky

Reason for Reading: Three reasons:

1. Several Sparklers have suggested it, and so have several friends.

2. I loved the title!

3. A movie is coming out in the not-so-distant future and Emma Watson (Hermione from the Harry Potter movies) will be playing Sam and Logan Lerman (Percy from Percy Jackson and the Olympians) will be playing Charlie.

Quote: “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.”

Copyright Date: 1999

Length: 213 pages

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Rating (out of 10 stars): 8 stars

Summary: It’s Charlie’s freshman year of high school, and he couldn’t be more scared. But when Charlie meets step-siblings Sam and Patrick, the pair takes Charlie under their wing. He learns about drugs, literature, “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” writing, and himself through the course of his first year of high school. His story is told through a series of letters Charlie writes to a mysterious stranger.

Review: I honestly have no idea what I think about this book. It is certainly a modern classic. It will be taught in classrooms for years to come. The identity of Charlie’s secret pen pal will be discussed for hours on end. It is masterfully written; in many places, the simplicity of Charlie’s voice makes much more of an impact than the eloquent language of authors celebrated throughout history. However, I didn’t really like it.

Have you ever gotten that feeling about a book before? When you know that the book is fantastic, but you just didn’t enjoy it? That’s how I feel about The Perks of Being a Wallflower. I recognize the fact that it was a wonderful book, it just wasn’t for me. Probably the thing I liked the least about it was the best thing about the book. I felt really uncomfortable, and even kind of guilty, while reading it because I felt like I was reading something very personal and private. That, Sparklers, is called incredible writing. The fact the reading Charlie’s letters made me fell guilty? He’s a fictional character! The problem was that I don’t like feeling uncomfortable when I’m reading. Books are my safe haven, and that’s not the type of emotion I want from them.

The thing is, I don’t think that Stephen Chbosky meant to entertain with this novel. Now, I’m not sure what it is he meant to do, and I love to hear your opinions, but I don’t think entertaining was high on his priority list. I did not enjoy The Perks of Being a Wallflower, however, I did gain a lot from it.

Recommendation: This is not a “feel-good” book. This is a “question-the-human-race-and-everything-about-life-itself” book. I’ve decided that The Perks of Being a Wallflower and I have a love-hate relationship. I’m not sure I will ever read it again, but I will never forget it. This book is not for the light-hearted. It requires some serious soul-searching, and it’s up to you to decide whether or not you’re up for it.

So, are you up for some soul searching?

Related post: One Year, 100 Books