Standing on the fringes of life offers a unique perspective. But there comes a time to see what it looks like from the dance floor. This haunting novel about the dilemma of passivity vs. passion marks the stunning debut of a provocative new voice in contemporary fiction: The Perks of Being a Wallflower.
This is the story of what it’s like to grow up in high school. More intimate than a diary, Charlie’s letters are singular and unique, hilarious and devastating. We may not know where he lives. We may not know to whom he is writing. All we know is the world he shares. Caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it puts him on a strange course through uncharted territory. The world of first dates and mixed tapes, family dramas and new friends. The world of sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, when all one requires is that perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite.
Through Charlie, Stephen Chbosky has created a deeply affecting coming-of-age story, a powerful novel that will spirit you back to those wild and poignant roller coaster days known as growing up.
Charlie is quiet, sensitive child who enjoys long walks in the moonlight and following butterflies, until one midnight stroll sends him tumbling down a well. He wakes up the next morning with an unusual new talent.
Whenever Charlie leans into a wall he disappears, and remains insubstantial as long as he maintains contact with the surface of the wall.
He expects his life to become different now, to suddenly become popular due to his new powers, but no one seems to notice. He was practically invisible already, so there’s not much change when he completely disappears.
Charlie is frustrated about his lack of character development, so he begins writing letters to comic legend Stan Lee in order to discover how to become a hero. Stan never writes back, but that doesn’t stop Charlie from writing letter after letter, and through these letters we hear his story.
Even without expert guidance Charlie’s newfound powers give him the ability to do what he never before had done: interact with his classmates.
Well that isn’t exactly true. Instead Charlie scrapes across the walls, listening into conversations. He observes how to strike up a conversation, flirt, befriend and the best ways to handle rejection. He faithfully records everything in his letters, and begins to write out how he could employ those strategies as he wait for hero training.
Slowly, Charlie begins putting his knowledge to the test. After several humorous failures, he befriends a group of average high school students. They take him to parties, acclimate him to their styles, genre of music, and with one in particular he finds romance. She’s sweet, a little shy, and one of the most beautiful girls in school. She tells Charlie that it was his charm that initially attracted her to him, and they talk about moving in together after high school.
He has successfully acclimated to high school. He likes the right songs, goes to the right parties, and has the perfect girlfriend. He uses his power less and less, but never gives up writing.
Then an article appears in the newspaper. An office aid in Stan Lee’s office had found several of Charlie’s earlier letters, and published them in the paper. As Charlie’s classmates realize that the writing lines up exactly with their town, suspicion starts to grow.
Perfect Girlfriend angrily confronts Charlie, asking if their entire relationship was a set up. Of course it was, but Charlie vehemently denies it, saying that while he may have gotten some extra help from his gifts, the connection was real. As the general public starts to catch wind of the story, all of Charlie’s friends abandon him.
Charlie realizes he has to leave before this gets any worse (perfect teenage logic), and persuades his family that they have a much better chance of normalcy on the other side of the country, so they pack up and leave.
In his final letter, Charlie tells Stan that he has given up any hopes of becoming a super hero. He’s also learned that the only way to truly make friends is by putting himself out there, and will no longer live life as a wallflower.