The lasting impact of ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower.’
“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.” Stephen Chbosky, ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower.’
“The Perks of Being a Wallflower” details the journey of an ordinary teenager, his struggles, and how he copes up with them. The entire book is from Charlie’s perspective through a series of letters to an unidentified friend.The book resonated with many readers because it was dealing with issues that weren’t really in the mainstream back then.
About the Author:
Stephen Chbosky is an American novelist and screenplay writer born on January 25, 1970, in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” is one of his most well-known and acclaimed novels. His life inspires many incidents in the novel. He wrote letters anonymously to writer Stewart Stern, who later found him and became his mentor. He based his characters on the memories of people he met during his adolescence.
As soon as the story begins, we realize that Charlie is struggling through his loved ones’ death. The first being his best friend’s suicide and the second being his aunt Helen’s accident while bringing his birthday present. When he entered high school, he met people who supported him: Bill and his new friends, Sam and Patrick. Bill is his English Teacher who recognizes Charlie’s interest and talent in Literature. He becomes his mentor and guides him with his reading and writings. Patrick and Sam are two seniors who befriend him and support him. He eventually falls for Sam, who already has a boyfriend.
Patrick is secretly dating Brad, who is also dating another girl. When Brad’s father finds out about their relationship, he sends Brad to rehab. Unable to accept himself, Brad lashes out at Patrick in front of the entire school. Charlie comes to his rescue when Brad’s teammates beat him. Following this event, Patrick starts depending on Charlie.
Throughout the entire book, Charlie goes through experiences, which help him grow and mature. His friends by his side always help him keep grounded.
Throughout the novel, we see Charlie struggling through his guilt from Aunt Helen’s death. He always stayed in the background and let all the attention fall on his siblings. Aunt Helen was the only person who showered him with affection and attention. During his sexual encounter with Sam, his aunt’s repressed memories of sexually molesting him come back to him. Shocking him and the readers. Following this, he goes into a catatonic state, unable to accept the sudden revelation.
In his last letter, he mentions that, through therapy, he has accepted and moved on from this issue. Additionally, he also expresses his wish to stop writing letters and actively take part in his life.
Chbosky always wanted to turn “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” into a movie. He got many offers but refused them. He wanted to make a movie that was worthy of fans’ love. At last, in 2012, with director Mr. Mudd and Producer John Malkovich, the movie’s production started. The movie stars Logan Lerman as Charlie, Ezra Miller as Patrick, and Emma Watson as Sam.
The movie was very well received and critics and audiences both liked the movie. It also brought a lot of attention to the book, helping it reach the New York Times bestseller list. Stephen made the movie PG13 as he wanted to show the movie to a larger audience group.
This story portrays the struggle and angst of a teenager. It is an insight into their minds and lives. Many readers expressed that they found the book relatable. However, many claims that this book changed their life. The book received mixed reviews. While some claimed the book to be scandalous and controversial, many readers and critics praised it for its relevant themes. It became one of the best-selling novels by Pocket Books and developed a cult following. The book talked about Mental Health, abuse, abortion, and Sexuality, topics that were not talked about a lot. They even banned the book in many schools because of some of its content. Many parents claimed that the book could corrupt their children,
We often don’t accept ourselves because of the fear of society. We mold ourselves to live according to societal norms, even if it makes us unhappy. When we accept ourselves for who we truly are, we can reach our full potential.
This line sums up the message of this novel.
“So, I guess, we are who we are for many reasons. And we’ll probably never know most of them. But even if we don’t have the power to choose where we come from, we can still choose where we go from there. We can still do things. And we can try to feel okay about them.” Stephen Chbosky, ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower.’