The world of high school is a scary but wonderful experience that everyone must go through. It is a world of first dates, family drama and creating new friends. As we open the pages to Stephen Chbosky’s “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” we see that Charlie is new to this world and has to deal with it in his own way.
Charlie describes his life experiences through a series of letters to a stranger, because he begins this story as a teenage boy who is scared and alone. He writes in a letter that he is scared to begin high school because his only friend, Michael, committed suicide the year before.
Soon enough, Charlie is befriended by Patrick, Sam and their group of friends. Patrick soon realizes that Charlie is wise beyond his years and calls him a wallflower.
Charlie has spent much of his life dealing with the loss of his Aunt Helen, his favorite person in the world, who died on his birthday as a child. Making friends of Patrick and Sam made it much easier for him to deal with the loss of his aunt.
There is specific night with Patrick and Sam that affected Charlie more than anything. They were driving down the road in Patrick’s truck when they began to approach a tunnel. As the truck reaches the tunnel, Sam stands in the back with her arms open to the wind with “Landslide” by Fleetwood Mac bursting through the speakers. Charlie describes how that incredible moment made him feel when writing one of his letters.
“In that moment, I swear we were infinite,” he said.
Through the course of the book, Charlie falls in love with Sam, and she begins to love him too. When she leaves for college towards the end of the novel, this affected Charlie in a horrible way. He has a flood of emotions and is bombarded by bad memories of his childhood. Charlie is then admitted to a mental hospital to understand why he is having these emotions.
It is revealed that Helen had sexually abused Charlie as a child, but his love for her caused him to repress those memories. He is caught between trying to live his life and run from it. After Charlie has begun to grow and heal, Patrick and Sam come back home to visit him, and they take one last ride of the summer through the tunnel in Patrick’s truck.
Charlie comes to terms with his past and decides to participate in life.
“Even if we don’t have the power to choose where we come from, we can still choose where we can go from there,” Charlie said.
“Perks of Being a Wallflower” is a story of love, friendship, sexuality and finding yourself that will capture the hearts of all of its readers.