Book Review: The Perks of Being a Wallflower

‘And in that moment, I swear we were infinite…’


Whilst The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a successful work in its own right, the spectre of Catcher in the Rye looms large. From the isolation and loneliness to the eventual redemption and coming of age, there are many parallels to be drawn between the two works.

It should be noted however, that these are common themes in all works involving adolescents. Whether it be a classic novel or a whiney emo song, the themes and motifs that accompany being a teenager will always remain the same, no matter what the generational difference.

What separates The Perks of Being a Wallflower from countless other similar novels is the richly drawn characters and writer Stephen Chbosky’s innate ability to truly capture what is such a tumultuous time in anybody’s life.

Luckily protagonist Charlie’s formative years are much more interesting than my own. ‘The Perks of Being a Fat Turd’ would probably have consisted entirely of tales of playing Football Manager and attempting to visit all of Doncaster’s McDonalds in one day. The Perks of Being a Wallflower however, sees Charlie discover music, sexuality, friendship, longing and heartbreak. A bit like a Smiths song in microcosm then…

As Stephen Chbosky wrote and directed the film adaptation of The Perks of Being a Wallflower, it is one of the rare occasions of a film living up to the source material. Having said that, whilst I would absolutely urge anyone to watch the film, the book hits harder and is more poignant. The book is also written entirely in letter form which makes for an engaging and easy read.

As there is so much over indulgent, melodramatic rubbish in the teen drama sub-genre, it is easy for books like The Perks of Being a Wallflower to fly under the radar. This is a shame as it is easily the most affecting and passionate book I have read since Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. A great read.

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