Oh, where to begin? The Perks of Being a Wallflower is one of my all time favorite reads. This coming-of-age novel is so chock full of amazing quotes and insights that you can read it many times over and still discover new snippets of wisdom with every page turn.
The main character, Charlie, is a lonely kid about to enter his freshmen year of high school with zero friends (his best friend from middle school having recently taken his own life). A line in the first chapter reads, “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.” This quote sets such a strong premonition, for the reader, of the journey ahead. There is not a person on this Earth who has not experienced this particular consciousness. And with each passage beginning with, “Dear friend” and ending with, “Love always, Charlie,” you can’t help but to bond on a personal level with the main character.
Throughout Charlie’s voyage through high school, he gains an eclectic group of friends centering around an ingenious and compassionate homosexual named Patrick and his tragically beautiful step-sister, Sam. The group also contains a kleptomaniac, a self-proclaimed philosopher and magazine editor, a closeted football star, and of course, the known pot head. Charlie is mostly an observer, going through life sitting in the background, taking the world in. This behavior is what leads his friends to deem him a “Wallflower,” telling Charlie, “You see things. You keep quiet about them. And you understand.”
With his new group of (older) friends, Charlie begins to embark upon the true “high school experience”—going to dances and parties, getting drunk and high, driving around town while listening to epic music and cracking bad jokes, even getting to play Frank N Furter in a showing of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.” And while Charlie tries his hardest to participate, like his English teacher and mentor advised him to do, his internal struggle to feel emotionally is tangible. There is always something just on the periphery that seems to hold him back, and because he is such a sweet, good-hearted person, as a reader, you can’t help but to cheer him on and hope for his revelation.
“Standing on the fringes of life offers a unique experience, but there’s a time to see what it looks like from the dance floor.”