The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

74%

52 Critic Reviews

This is the strength of Chbosky’s writing. He crafts Charlie’s voice in a way that defies context. Charlie is inside every lonely teenager and every adult remembers him fondly. The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a gift...
-Guardian

Synopsis

Read the cult-favorite coming of age story that takes a sometimes heartbreaking, often hysterical, and always honest look at high school in all its glory. Now a major motion picture starring Logan Lerman and Emma Watson, The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a funny, touching, and haunting modern classic.

The critically acclaimed debut novel from Stephen Chbosky, Perks follows observant “wallflower” Charlie as he charts a course through the strange world between adolescence and adulthood. First dates, family drama, and new friends. Sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Devastating loss, young love, and life on the fringes. Caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it, Charlie must learn to navigate those wild and poignant roller-coaster days known as growing up.

A #1 New York Times best seller for more than a year, an American Library Association Best Book for Young Adults (2000) and Best Book for Reluctant Readers (2000), and with millions of copies in print, this novel for teen readers (or “wallflowers” of more-advanced age) will make you laugh, cry, and perhaps feel nostalgic for those moments when you, too, tiptoed onto the dance floor of life.
 

About Stephen Chbosky

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Stephen Chbosky wrote and directed the feature film adaptation of his novel, The Perks of Being a Wallflower. A native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, he graduated from the University of Southern California’s Filmic Writing Program. His first film, The Four Corners of Nowhere, premiered at Sundance Film Festival.  He wrote the screenplay for the critically acclaimed film adaptation of Rent; and co-created the post-apocalyptic television drama, Jericho. He also edited Pieces, a collection of short stories for Pocket Books.
 
Published June 25, 2010 by MTV Books. 225 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, Young Adult, Biographies & Memoirs, Science & Math, Self Help, Romance, Parenting & Relationships, Education & Reference, Gay & Lesbian. Fiction
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Critic reviews for The Perks of Being a Wallflower
All: 52 | Positive: 41 | Negative: 11

Kirkus

Below average
Reviewed by Kirkus Reviews on Jan 15 1999

A plain-written narrative suggesting that passivity, and thinking too much, lead to confusion and anxiety.

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Guardian

Good
Reviewed by Nic on Aug 19 2015

This is the strength of Chbosky’s writing. He crafts Charlie’s voice in a way that defies context. Charlie is inside every lonely teenager and every adult remembers him fondly. The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a gift...

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Guardian

Good
Reviewed by ASHAPOORV on Jun 30 2015

What makes this book so special and authentic is its realism. As an adult it takes you back to when you were a teenager, as a child it shows you what lies ahead and as a teenager it inspires you.

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Guardian

Good
Reviewed by Scoutingforbooks on Apr 24 2015

These are the kind of books which should be made into films because they are interesting and convey a good message. The novel also brings up a multitude of problems. It's fun and not your average run-of-the-mill teen book where everyone falls in love and everything turns out all right in the end.

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Guardian

Excellent
Reviewed by acornsized on Aug 09 2014

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is one of my favourite books and one I can re-read over and over again and adore it just the same every time I do. I would definitely recommend this book and give it a 10/10 as a truly outstanding book.

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Guardian

Below average
Reviewed by DewdropAvatar on May 13 2014

Although I found it hard to imagine the story playing out in my head; the straight forward way of writing with no fancy metaphors appealed to me because it showed a certain honesty...this book is certainly worthwhile if you've got some time on your hands, but if you're addicted to attention to detail you may as well drop this book and leave now.

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Guardian

Excellent
Reviewed by molliebookworm on Mar 02 2014

If you read this story you will laugh, cry and keep reading on. It is not to be missed...This story has stayed with me for a long while and I am sure if you read it, you will remember it forever. I highly recommend this book if you are 14+.

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Guardian

Good
Reviewed by Beth, Millennium RIOT Readers on Oct 28 2013

After reading Catcher in the Rye and being fairly disappointed...I have to say that the feel of this book is what Catcher should have been. Charlie vs Holden- no contest really. I will certainly read ANYTHING by this author in future as I enjoyed it from first page to last.

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Guardian

Good
Reviewed by ABitCrazy on Sep 08 2013

...my friend had just finished it and so I picked it up and started reading it. And instantly I enjoyed it, it was an amazing book! One of the best books I've read this year. I think it's written really well and I really loved all of the characters, they all had something special about them.

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Guardian

Good
Reviewed by mariakozhuhar on Jul 26 2013

I strongly believe that you have to read this book in order to understand teenagers in a better way, and also to learn important lessons about life which Charlie receives from his friends.

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Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by ThePinkElephant on Jul 22 2013

The Perks of being a Wallflower is an acquired taste and, at times, it is very hard to digest. There are many themes which will be very difficult and inappropriate for younger audiences. However, it is one of those coming-of-age novels that you must read at least once in your life.

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Guardian

Good
Reviewed by Ali on Apr 26 2013

I would recommend this book to teenagers that are quite mature as it can be quite sad and also it's quite sexual as well. When I read the book, I thought that the book has a really strong moral and that was that you have to live your life to the full!

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Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by Readr on Jan 20 2013

This book is going to catch and surprise you every time you turn a page...What makes this book so special and authentic is its reality. As an adult it takes you back to when you were a teenager, as a child it shows you what lies ahead and as a teenager it inspires you.

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Publishers Weekly

Below average
Reviewed by Publishers Weekly on Feb 01 1999

A trite coming-of-age novel.

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All About Romance

Above average
Reviewed by Pat Henshaw on May 27 2015

The most unsettling thing about the book is that it reads almost as if Chbosky had a list of important teen topics at his fingertips as he typed...I can’t help feeling that Chbosky knew all the current issue buttons to push, but he didn’t know how to follow through and make the book deeper and more enjoyable when he pushed them.

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Examiner

Excellent
Reviewed by Gerianne Bartlett on Sep 11 2011

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a well-written novel that discusses themes that face high school and college students today.

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AV Club

Below average
Reviewed by Marah Eakin on Sep 21 2012

Perks suffers from an overabundance of pure, raw angst.

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The Telegraph

Below average
Reviewed by Jenny McCartney on Oct 10 2012

Even in my adolescence I wouldn’t have been able to hear a pretty girl say, by way of quirky acceptance, “welcome to the island of misfit toys” without a major cringe.

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Huffington Post

Excellent
Reviewed by Christy Lemire on Sep 19 2012

"The Perks of Being a Wallflower," may not do anything groundbreaking, but it tells a familiar story in small, thoughtful ways.

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Pajiba

Above average
Reviewed by Amurph11 on Oct 26 2012

It's a book that normalizes intense emotional experiences at a time when most of us felt our emotions most intensely...there's nary an emotional ground that isn't covered in an honest, empathetic way. In this way, Perks will probably always be one of those books that's a lot of things to a lot of people.

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Pajiba

Below average
Reviewed by Amanda Mae Meyncke on Sep 01 2012

Hell is other people's nostalgia.

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About.com

Excellent
Reviewed by Mark Flanagan on Sep 01 2012

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is an intriguing read, and it has an incredible cult following.

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Common Sense Media

Excellent
Reviewed by Kate Pavao on Mar 01 2012

Teens who love The Catcher in the Rye will find this to be an excellent sequel of sorts.

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Kings River Life

Good
Reviewed by Jessica Ham on Sep 01 2012

It is a beautiful book full of humorous stories and sweet teenage love. Charlie, Sam, and Patrick are very close. The friendship warms your heart...This book is on my top ten list of favorite books. I laughed, I cried, and it warmed my heart on every page. So I suggest that you pick up this wonderful coming of age book. You won’t regret it.

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Kidz World

Above average
on Aug 18 2012

Even though it was published in the late 90s, The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a fantastic book for any teen to read...Charlie is a naïve, pathetic, and lovable protagonist that is more prone to tear shed than a 4-year-old girl, but that just makes him all the more interesting.

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CNN.com

Excellent
Reviewed by Breeana Hare on Sep 21 2012

The protagonist is . . . just as famous for being too risqué for some classrooms as he is for endearing himself to a legion of fans.

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Break Point

Below average
Reviewed by Sherry Early on Sep 24 2012

The book just didn’t work for me, as a coming of age novel, as a quirky depiction of introversion and mental illness, or as a sketch of high school angst and friendship.

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UTexas

Excellent
Reviewed by College of Education on Mar 01 2012

His story contains bits and pieces of any reader's story.

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Young Adult Literature

Excellent
Reviewed by Devonte Baldwin on Sep 01 2012

The Perks of Being a Wallflower has made its way into the top ten most banned books among high schools. While this book is highly criticized for its mature content, it contains valuable insights into the life of a high school freshman.

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Film School Rejects

Excellent
Reviewed by Kate Erbland on Sep 21 2012

Chbosky’s book made an indelible mark on me as a teenager, one that I’ve never been quite able to shake.

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State Library of Victoria

Excellent
Reviewed by Jkerr on Nov 28 2012

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is saturated with emotion.

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World Socialist Web Site

Below average
Reviewed by David Walsh on Dec 28 2012

The Perks of Being a Wallflower holds out promise, before—in the end—substantially disappointing.

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Entertainment Weekly

Excellent
Reviewed by James Franco on Dec 17 2012

High school is a time and place that can be done so wrong, but these wallflowers do it so right.

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HeraldNet

Good
Reviewed by Jennifer on Jul 05 2012

This might sound weird, but the book was well worth the read despite the brief gloomy attitude that I got after I finished it. And finally! Finally, a book where the friends don't make a run for it when they see their new buddy can't exactly cope with his brain twisting around itself.

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T Russville Public Library

Excellent
Reviewed by Nicole on Mar 01 2012

Such a refreshing book after reading so many books that seem to have the same ending.

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Teen Ink

Good
Reviewed by mryan20 on May 15 2015

The book teaches us is that there’s always a group for you, but you just have to find the one that makes you happy to come to school every day...This book is defiantly a book to read over and over again. It pulls you in to show what it’s really like for a 14 year old in high school

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Teen Ink

Good
on May 15 2015

Throughout the book it hints that Charlie is not quite right, there is something that his depression is trying to hide...As I continued to read the characters began to grow on me, they are weird, fun, and definitely not your typical teenagers. This book kept me on the edge of my seat and is a novel you can’t miss.

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Teen Ink

Good
Reviewed by JessicaWu on May 15 2015

This perfectly written young adult novel will take you on Charlie’s journey through high school. Reading the letters he sends will unleash his whole story to you...This beautiful coming of age story will show you the effects of depression. Reading The Perks of Being a Wallflower will leave you in a thrilling whirlwind of emotions.

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Teen Ink

Good
Reviewed by esthert on May 14 2015

This book, set in 1991, is arranged as a series of letters to an anonymous person. The protagonist goes by the alias of Charlie...Chbosky has a vivid writing style. He is able to capture so many things with a select few words. This is just one of the reasons why I fell in love with this compelling tale.

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Teen Ink

Good
Reviewed by AntoinetteBrandt on May 15 2015

This is a great coming-of-age story...This brilliant first novel captures the reader’s mind. From when Charlie first realizes he is in love, to the times that he is infinite, and the moments he is in tears, Chbosky never fails to promise the reader something good. Something beautiful. Something infinite.

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Story Snoops

Good
Reviewed by Shannon on Mar 01 2012

This popular book is an excellent coming of age story that will appeal to both reluctant and enthusiastic readers.

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Jules' Book Reviews

Above average
Reviewed by Jules on Sep 14 2013

For the most part liked the book, I wouldn't say I loved it, but it was well written. The author captures Charlie's voice incredibly well, and shows his struggles through tying to find himself during his high school years...being a young adult book, I think young adults or fans of young adult fiction would appreciate it more.

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The Literary Omnivore

Good
Reviewed by The Literary Omnivore on Apr 23 2014

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a delicate, sweet, quiet, and exquisitely detailed book about that most universally adolescent of all quests—learning to be your own agent. Charlie is such a wonderful, marvelous creation. Highly recommended.

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Literary Exploration

Good
Reviewed by MICHAEL KITTO on Aug 18 2012

While the writing did feel very basic, The Perks of Being a Wallflower is driven by the quirky life of Charlie and his letters. I never wanted to stop reading, I felt myself always wanting to know what will happen next. I really enjoyed this book and I’m excited about the coming film adaptation.

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Bermuda Onion's Weblog

Good
Reviewed by Bermuda Onion on Jan 28 2014

It’s hard to describe The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky since it’s told from the perspective of an adolescent boy. His thoughts ramble even as he tells his story. It’s best to pay attention, though, because some of those ramblings are important.

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Book'd Out

Above average
Reviewed by Shelleyrae on Oct 01 2012

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is written for a mature teen audience who will be able to relate to the characters and their anxieties. This is a moving, funny and inspiring novel about growing up and moving on.

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Rather Be Reading

Good
Reviewed by MAGAN on Nov 09 2011

I was drawn to Charlie’s character, who is so young and spastic, because he reminded me of exactly what it felt like to be a freshman in high school...Be prepared to encounter a few difficult topics throughout the course of this book. Ultimately, this book is a four star kind of book for me. I’m thrilled I read it, loved the coming of age story...

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Wondrous Reads

Good
Reviewed by Prophecygirl on Sep 23 2011

I found this book to be quite simple, both in style and content, but still I couldn't put it down. Charlie's life makes for compulsive reading...I feel like I have a new friend in Charlie who, like me, will always have a part of himself that fits into the wallflower category.

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Bookshelves of Doom

Above average
Reviewed by Leila Roy on Mar 22 2013

It's about a boy climbing out of darkness into the light, about finding his way from the fringes of life into a comfortable center, about a wallflower becoming a participant. And it's a book written with such honesty, that feels so profoundly human—to me, anyway—that even trying to articulate that feeling has me choked up and starting to cry.

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Book Thingo

Above average
Reviewed by Wandergurl on Sep 21 2012

It took me a while to read this book, and I had to put it down for a bit to read something happier. Charlie can get a bit depressive, but he pulls through and you find yourself barracking for him, especially at the end when he figures things out. I spent most of this book just wanting to give him a hug.

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Ron Reads

Above average
Reviewed by Ronald on Sep 30 2012

But there’s also no denying the fact that this book means a lot to a lot of people, and I think part of the reason why I didn’t connect with it as much as others have is the fact that I’m reading “Perks” quite some time after my own adolescence. I can easily imagine teenagers getting into this book...

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Writers News Weekly

Good
Reviewed by Sarah Bell on Aug 01 2012

If you haven’t heard of it, go get a copy. If you have and you don’t have a copy already, shame on you.

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Reader Rating for The Perks of Being a Wallflower
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Nathalie 16 Feb 2013

Rated the book as 4 out of 5

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Rated the book as 3 out of 5

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Rated the book as 1 out of 5

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Rated the book as 4 out of 5

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Rated the book as 1.5 out of 5

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