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Archive Book Review: The Perks of Being a Wallflower

The Perks of Being a Wildflower Book Review


Archive Book Review: The Perks of Being a Wallflower

This book is sad and happy and complicated and haunting and hopeful and beautifully done

Review Date: November 2, 2012

Cover Copy

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.

Since its publication, Stephen Chbosky’s haunting novel about the dilemma of passivity vs. passion has received critical acclaim, provoked discussion and debate, and grown into a cult sensation with over one million copies in print.

It 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, family dramas, and new friends. The world of sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, where all you need is that perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite.

Through Charlie, Chbosky has created a deeply affecting novel that will spirit you back to those wild and poignant roller coaster days known as growing up.


So, I saw the preview for The Perks of Being a Wildflower the other day and thought, I really ought to read this book. Especially if I’m going to go see the movie. So I picked it up, and read it in just a couple distracted days {otherwise I might have read it all in one day}. The characters felt real and relate-able, and I easily came to care for them. I slipped right into the world every time I picked it up, no matter what was going on around me.

And I loved the format. It reminded me so much of myself — both when I was that age, writing in journals every day, and also now, with all the thoughts that constantly run through my head. And, like Charlie, I’m a thinker, a reader, and a more introspective, on-the-fringes-of-social-interaction type of person. But my favorite character was Sam, because of the things she says and the way she thinks. Her quotes were some of the most resonant for me, and I love that. Overall, this book is sad and happy and complicated and haunting and hopeful and beautifully done.

First Line

Dear friend, I am writing to you because she said you listen and understand and didn’t try to sleep with that person at that party even though you could have.

Favorite Lines

  • So, this is my life. And I want you to know that I am both happy and sad and I’m still trying to figure out how that could be.
  • It is now my favorite book of all time, but then again, I always think that until I read another book.
  • I thought that in those movies and television shows when they talk about having a coffee break that they should have a masturbation break. But then again, I think this would decrease productivity.
  • …we accept the love we think we deserve.
  • …let the quiet put things where they are supposed to be.
  • Five minutes of a lifetime were truly spent, and we felt young in a good way.
  • I really had to quote that one even though it has a swear.
  • …and the music sounded heavy like water.
  • And in that moment, I swear we were infinite.
  • I am starting to see a real trend in the kind of books Bill gives me to read. And just like the tape of songs, it is amazing to hold each of them in the palm of my hand. They are all my favorites. All of them.
  • I read the book again that night because I knew that if I didn’t, I would probably start crying again. … In the morning, I finished the book and then started immediately reading it again. Anything to not feel like crying.
  • It’s like when you are excited about a girl and you see a couple holding hands, and you feel so happy for them. And other times you see the same couple, and they make you so mad. And all you want is to always feel happy for them because you know that if you do, then it means that you’re happy, too.
  • I try to remind myself when I feel great like this that there will be another terrible week coming someday, so I should store up as many great details as I can, so during the next terrible week, I can remember those details and believe that I’ll feel great again. It doesn’t work a lot, but I think it’s very important to try.
  • Girls are weird, and I don’t mean that offensively. I just can’t put it any other way.
  • …but I’ve already told you about Thanksgiving and Christmas, and there really isn’t much of a difference. Except that my father got a raise, and my mother didn’t because she doesn’t get paid for housework…
  • I just wish that God or my parents or Sam or my sister or someone would just tell me what’s wrong with me. Just tell me how to be different in a way that makes sense. To make this all go away. And disappear. I know that’s wrong because it’s my responsibility, and I know that things get worse before they get better … but this is a worse that feels too big.
  • I don’t know how much longer I can keep going without a friend. I used to be able to do it very easily, but that was before I knew what having a friend was like. It’s much easier not to know things sometimes.
  • things change. And friends leave. And life doesn’t stop for anybody.
  • And then he says something like this… “I would die for you. But I won’t live for you.” … I think the idea is that every person has to live for his or her own life and then make the choice to share it with other people.
  • I was very grateful to have heard it again. [That I was special.] Because I guess we all forget sometimes. And I think everyone is special in their own way. I really do.
  • I love my mom so much. I don’t care if that’s corny to say. I think on my next birthday, I’m going to buy her a present. I think that should be a tradition. The kid gets gifts from everybody, and he buys one present for his mom since she was there, too. I think that would be nice.
  • This one kid … called me a “teacher’s pet” in the hallway after Bill’s class, but I didn’t mind because I think he missed the point somewhere.
  • If somebody likes me, I want them to like the real me, not what they think I am. And I don’t want them to carry it around inside. I want them to show me, so I can feel it, too. I want them to be able to do whatever they want around me. And if they do something I don’t like, I’ll tell them. … Maybe he didn’t encourage me to do things, but he didn’t prevent me from doing them either. But after a while, I didn’t do things because I didn’t want him to think different about me. But the thing is, I wasn’t being honest. So, why would I care whether or not he loved me when he didn’t really even know me?
  • I think that if I ever have kids, and they are upset, I won’t tell them that people are starving in China or anything like that because it won’t change the fact that they were upset. And even if somebody else has it much worse, that doesn’t really change the fact that you have what you have. Good or bad.

Last Word

  • Charlie

Reader, Author, Bookstagrammer, and Mom; Alexis runs Nerdy Post, a fandom artwork box as well as serves as chief editor and writer on Drop and Give me Nerdy.

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