‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’ Captures True High School Experiences


Emily Malone

‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’ by Stephan Chbosky is about a socially awkward wallflower. In this book, he takes the reader along with him on his journey of freshman year in high school. He tells the stories of him and his friends in this book published in the late 90’s. Graphic by Emily Malone.

Emily Malone, Photographer

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky is a story about a socially awkward boy named Charlie in his freshman year in high school who struggles with on and off depression. He befriends two seniors who are brother and sister and from there he tells the reader about his roller-coaster of a year in a series of notes seemingly written to the reader. He talks about all sorts of topics that someone in high school in 2019 can still relate to, even though the book was published in the late 90’s.

Charlie is a self doubting slightly depressed wallflower that tries to participate in life but still manages to maintain being a wallflower which is his best trait. People often view being a wallflower as something bad; it’s seen as lonely and distant from everyone else, but not for Charlie. Charlie has friends and will try to participate in life, but he enjoys just sitting back and observing people and the situation. He feels it allows him to truly see and understand the people around him. He sees their inner struggles, and the sadness in their eyes. He sees their little small smiles when they hear something that makes them happy, and the sparkle in their eyes when they talk about something they love. Because of this, he helps to make the people in his life and the reader somewhat understand and well, seen. Charlie notices things no one else does and tries to be there for his friends. It is why they love him, because he is a wallflower. Because just as he understands their inner struggles, they understand his quietness.

The book had been banned from libraries in 2015 as it was considered inappropriate. Parents want their children to be able to read books and broaden their horizons without causing a corrupt dark outlook, and they were fearful of The Perks of Being a Wallflower as they were unsure which one it did. However, this book offers a unique view on the struggles of being in high school, as Charlie not only tells of his struggles but also the struggles he sees other people facing. He talks about both his and his friend’s experiences with drugs, sex, rape, abortion, bullying, alcohol, and homosexuality. The book obviously covers dark topics that are not often talked about but need to be talked about, the topics are covered in a way that helps the reader to understand them. They are topics people prefer not to talk about but need to be as in some cases they can sadly be relatable to the reader. The topics are covered as minor plot points, not all of which are experienced by Charlie rather his friends but they’re impact and importance is in no way lessened. In this book there is a character, whether it is a major or minor character, that almost anyone can relate to.

Everyone should read The Perks of Being a Wallflower in high school because it will make you feel seen and understood. The book has all types of characters from a closeted football player to a teenage girl who falls in love with a guy in college that breaks her heart. There is someone almost everyone can identify with whether they want to or not. This book can help someone feel like they are not alone in the world, and that someone does understand and see what they are going through.