For my book report, I read The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Eloquently written by Stephen Chbosky, it is narrated by Charlie as he describes the highs and lows of being a teenager. Other major characters include Sam and Patrick, two teenagers he meets at a football game, and Charlie’s sister. The story takes place in a suburban area of Pittsburgh during the early 1990’s. Charlie is a freshman in high school, very apprehensive due to the fact that his friend Michael has committed suicide a few months ago.
He doesn’t feel like he can truly lean on his parents or older siblings for support, because they never truly understood him. He also explains that the only relative he ever felt close to was his Aunt Helen, but she was killed in a car accident on his seventh birthday. Charlie soon befriends two seniors; Sam, and her stepbrother Patrick. He develops strong feelings for Sam. Charlie writes about the situations he gets into with his new friends including going parties, doing drugs for the first time, watching Sam and Patrick perform in the Rocky Horror Show, and driving through a tunnel and feeling infinite.
Despite his feelings for Sam, Charlie briefly dates Mary Elizabeth, another girl in their clique. He takes her to the Sadie Hawkins dance at school, and then goes on a couple of dates with her. At first Charlie does not mind how one-sided their relationship is, but he has sex with Mary Elizabeth, he does not like the fast pace of their relationship. During a game of truth and dare when Patrick dares him to kiss the prettiest girl in the room, Charlie kisses Sam, which ends his relationship with Mary Elizabeth.
Speaking of relationships, this book discusses many issues that still go on today in relationships. Sam, who dates a hunky football player named Craig, who we find out has been cheating with her during the whole relationship. Another relationship topic is abuse. Charlie’s sister, who dates a boy who has slapped her once in front of Charlie, eventually gets pregnant. Charlie takes her to get an abortion, and she eventually dumps the boy. In addition, Charlie writes about Patrick’s relationship with Brad, the quarterback of the football team, who is gay but still “in the closet”.
One day, Brad’s dad catches Patrick and Brad having relations, and the dad beats up Brad in front of Patrick. The next day at school, Brad has bruises all over and completely ignores Patrick. When one of his fellow football players trips him, Brad calls Patrick a “faggot”, which results to a fight in the middle of the cafeteria. Brad’s friends gang up on Patrick and beat him up, despite Sam’s efforts to stop them. Charlie beats up the guys who were ganging up on Patrick, and to everyone’s shock, passes in the middle of the cafeteria.
As weeks pass, both Sam and Patrick are accepted into colleges, and will be leaving. Charlie ends up kissing Sam once more, and just as they are about sex, Charlie has a memory of his Aunt Helen touching him in the places Sam was. Charlie soon starts to feel sick and ends up spending the night at Sam’s house. Charlie then has a mental breakdown that gets him in the hospital. While in the hospital, he sees a psychiatrist that helps him realize that his Aunt Helen was actually molested him when he was a child, which is why Charlie isn’t mentally well right now.
He stays in the hospital for a while, with occasional visits from his family and friends. When Charlie is released, Patrick and Sam take him to the tunnel and this time, Charlie stands on the truck bed, feeling infinite. In the end, he learns that he can go on with life without being scared because he is more than a wallflower. I was very satisfied with the conclusion because the whole book made me cry. And I didn’t cry because I am an emotional female, I swear. Anyways, a quote in the book that got to me the most was: “We accept the love we think we deserve. It made me cry because it is absolutely true. We settle for less because once we find someone who puts up with our crap, no matter how many times that person has done us wrong, we eventually go crawling back to them every single time. Many times we forgive even when we’re not supposed to, in fear of losing the other person. I relate to this because I had an ex who I would always go back to, and we broke up four times. He was amazing, and not abusive unlike Charlie’s sister’s boyfriend, but what got to me was every time he broke things off with me, it was because he liked another girl.
And when that didn’t work out for him, he would come back to me. I realized I was a rebound, but honestly… I forgave him every single time, and to be honest, it kind of hurt. It used to bother me so much that I spent so much time stressing and crying over him, when I could be doing much better things. After going to different high schools, we stopped everything we had, and decided to remain acquaintances. To this day, we still talk, but everything is just friendly. He has a girlfriend, by the way. Oh my goodness, I absolutely loved this novel.
It tugs at your heartstrings, and makes you want to cry your eyes out at times. It makes you realize the ups and downs of your teenage years, and triggers memories: some that you want to relive and some that you don’t. I’d give it 11 out of 10, because that’s how much I loved it. I would recommend to everyone over the age of 13 because it’s truly not a difficult book to read, it just has some mature themes and motives that more mature readers would understand. So yes, go read The Perks of Being a Wallflower especially if you’re one of those females that get choked emotionally by coming of age novels.