The Perks of being a Wallflower: Book, summary, review

Hey readers! Welcome to the page. Today we’re all set to give you the full detailed information of the most loved coming of age novel ‘The Perks of being a Wallflower.’ The Perks of being a wallflower is written by American author Stephen Chbosky . The novel was first published on 1st February 1999.  The novel proved to be an instant best seller. It was included in the best selling list in 2000( just after one year of it’s first publication). It was also included in NPR’s  list of ‘100 best ever teen novels’ in the same year.

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The novel was acclaimed all over the world and it has been published in 13 languages across 16 countries. The novel also got very positive reviews from media across the world like-

“a coming of age tale in the tradition of the catcher in the rye and a separate peace….poignant….inspirational….beautifully written.” -usa today

“passed from adolescent to adolescent like a hot potato…. the book’s target audience has declared it a legit page turner ever since it was published.”-the new york times

“the language is plain and springy and blunt…. in this culture where adolescence is a dirty world, I hope nothing bad ever happens to {Charlie}.”- los angeles times

Let’s get straight to the summary of this legendary piece of literature

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The perks of being a wallflower: Summary


Charlie, the 15 year old shy and introvert protagonist and narrator begins his freshman year of high school. Charlie is quiet depressed due the suicide of his best friend Michael. He’s also struggling to cope with the death of his favorite person, his aunt Helen. Due to these two traumatic incidences his mental health isn’t very good.

To cope with all this Charlie begins writing letters to a stranger about his day to day experiences. However, he writes the letters anonymously so that the recipient can’t discover him. Due to the letters the novel feels like a series of diary entries by Charlie.

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Charlie doesn’t have many friends at the beginning of his freshman year. However, he develops close relations with his English teacher, Bill, who gives him novels to read and assigns him to write reports on them. In the quest of finding some real friends, Charlie befriends two seniors, Sam and Patrick during a football match.  Charlie thinks that Sam and Patrick are dating but Patrick tells him that Sam is his stepsister. Charlie soon becomes obsessed with Sam and develops a crush on her. When he finally tells Sam, she asks Charlie to ‘not think about her that way.’ On the other hand, Patrick, who’s gay, is in a relationship with Brad, the quarterback of the school football team.

During a party, Charlie gets stoned and tells Sam about the suicide of his best friend. Sam feels bad for him and informs this to Patrick. So Patrick and Sam introduce Charlie to their group. At the same party, when Charlie and Sam are alone, she tells him that she was sexually abused during her childhood, she kisses Charlie to make sure that his first kiss should be from ‘someone who loves him’.

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Charlie’s sister has an abusive boyfriend. Charlie sees her sister’s boyfriend slapping her, but his sister insists Charlie to stay out of it and asks him to not to tell anyone about it. But Charlie tells it to Bill, and he informs their parents about the matter. So, Charlie’s sister gets mad at him for telling Bill. Soon, his sister informs Charlie that she’s pregnant and her boyfriend just broke up with her. She trusts Charlie to keep it a secret and to drive her to abortion center. So, their relationship deepens and they both get close again.

At a party, Charlie trips on LSD. Due to which Charlie can’t stop remembering his aunt Helen and how she died. Aunt Helen died in a car accident on Christmas(which is Charlie’s birthday too). She went out on Christmas to buy a second gift for Charlie, but eventually never returned. Charlie gets a chance to perform with Sam at Rocky Horror picture show and everyone loves Charlie’s performance. Mary Elizabeth, a self-obsessed senior gets attracted to Charlie. They both date but Charlie soon gets fed up of the relationship. They ultimately break up on a party when, during a truth and dare game, Charlie is asked to kiss the most beautiful girl in the room and he kisses Sam instead of Mary Elizabeth.

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Sam gets mad at Charlie for this, as it affects her friendship with Mary, Patrick advises Charlie to ‘stay away’ for sometime. Things starts getting bad for Charlie as he doesn’t have any friends anymore, Sam’s mad, Patrick is busy with his life and he broke up with Mary. He feels terrible for it. Charlie’s already struggling with flashbacks of aunt Helen and now he’s friendless and alone this, makes Charlie depressed.


When Charlie goes to Patrick’s friend Bob’s house, he finds out that Brad’s father caught Patrick and Brad in his basement and he beat Brad very hard.  In the cafeteria, Brad abuses Patrick, angered by this Patrick punches Brad and whole football teams starts beating Patrick. Charlie jumps in the fight and defends Patrick. This helps Charlie to win back his friends and get back in the group. Mary forgives Charlie and tells him about her new boyfriend. The bond between Charlie and Patrick deepens and Patrick seeks Charlie’s shoulder to cope with his break up with Brad. One night, Patrick kisses Charlie, for which he apologizes instantly. Charlie doesn’t reacts and understands that it’s difficult time for Patrick.

As the school year ends, Charlie gets anxious and sad as almost all of his older friends are leaving the school for college, especially Sam. Sam finds out that her boyfriend was cheating on her since the beginning and she breaks up with him. Instead of being happy about her break up, Charlie feels sad for Sam, and realizes that he truly loves her. Charlie helps Sam in packing for her pre-college program. While packing, Sam gets angry with Charlie for not showing his true feelings. She also asserts that he should’ve resisted when Patrick kissed him. Soon, Charlie and Sam start making out and engage sexually, but Charlie feels uncomfortable and stops Sam. Charlie gets anxious, Sam asks Charlie to satay over that night. In the morning, Sam leaves for College and Charlie returns home. That night, Charlie dreams about his aunt Helen molesting him.


Charlie is admitted to the hospital as his conditions got worse. The doctor discovers that what Charlie dreamt, indeed happened with him when he was a child, his aunt molested him. This was, till some extent, the reason of his anxiousness. Charlie’s friend and his brother and sister helps Charlie to cope with this and he eventually returns home. In the last letter, he tells that he’s not afraid to start his sophomore year and he wouldn’t be able to write letters anymore cause he’ll be busy ‘participating’.

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The Perks of being a Wallflower: Movie

The Perks of being a Wallflower was released in 2012 with the same name as the novel. The movie is written by Stephen Chbosky himself. It received positive reviews all over the world, especially Stephen Chbosky for beautifully adapting the novel into movie.

The movie starred Logan Lerman as Charlie, Emma Watson as Sam, Ezra Miller as Patrick, Mae Whitman as Mary Elizabeth and Nina Dobrev as Charlie’s sister. The cast also received great acclamations from the audience, especially Logan Lerman.

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The movie succeeded commercially grossing $33.4 million. It received ‘Critics Choice movie Awards nomination’, Independent Spirit Award for best First Feature, GLADD Media Award for Outstanding Film and best Adapted Screenplay for Stephen Chbosky.

The Perks of being a Wallflower: Review

The novel is probably the best coming of age novel ever written. The novel deals with things which is highly relatable to the readers life (if you’re a young adult). It was written in 1999 but this one would never get old, never! Stephen Chbosky amazingly portrays Charlie’s character and he’s probably one of the most adorable protagonist among the young-adults( You can compare the character with Miles Halter from ‘Looking for Alaska’ or Quentin Jacobsen from ‘Paper Towns’)

The novel doesn’t have a lot of twists and turns and to be honest it doesn’t even need them cause the beauty of this novel lies in it’s simplicity (believe me or not). The novel is neither fast paced, but it carries you along the course of the novel and at some point, it becomes ‘difficult’ to stop reading this one. And you’d adore each and every character of the novel, even Brad! I’d conclude that The Perks of being a Wallflower is a must-read for teenagers and it would always be included in top 10 young adults of all time(even in 2050!).

Love reading Coming-of-Age novels? Check out our recommendations!

1) A Separate Peace by John Knowles 



2) We the Animals by Justin Torres



3) Call Me By Your Name by Andre Aciman



4) Emma by Jane Austen



5) The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt



6) The Book Thief by Markus Zusak



7) The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides



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