Chartreuse cover of The Perks of Being a Wallflower, with a small photo in the upper right of a pair of legs in pants and shoes

About the Book

Title: The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Published: 1999
Swoonworthy Scale: 5

Drinks Taken: 78 Drinks, 11 Shots, 20 Chugs (RIP My Liver)
BFF Charm: Yay!
Swoonworthy Scale: 5
Talky Talk: Benny & Joon
Offenses To My Ladylike Sensibilities: Anti-Family, Profane Language, Depictions of Sexuality, Drug Use, Obscene or Child Pornography, Suicide, Unsuited To Age Group, Promotion Of the Homosexual Agenda
Relationship Status: The Bodyguard

Content warning: This book includes references to suicide.

The Deal:

Charlie is, in a word, special. (And I don’t mean that in a disabled way, although there is something delightfully off about his brain.) In letters to a “Dear Friend,” Charlie chronicles his life as a high school freshman, transforming the mundane into the miraculous with heartbreaking honesty and whimsical charm. He begins the school year friendless and alone thanks to the suicide of his bestie, Michael, the year before and the graduation of his older brother. (He does have an older sister, but given that she can be kind of a biotch, she’s not really a BFF option.) Charlie is determined to make a fresh start and escape the sadness that has threatened to consume him ever since the death of his beloved Aunt Helen. Luckily, he meets Patrick and Sam, a dynamic duo that usher him into a swirling, electric world of new experiences, a magical mayhem bursting with possibilities, happiness and, most importantly, participation.

Drinks Taken: 81 Drinks, 11 Shots, 20 Chugs (RIP My Liver)

HOLY RAVIOLI this book is full of enough “indecency” to drive Watchdog Moms of America to the mouth-foaming brink of insanity. There’s sex, drugs, and yes, kids, THERE’S ROCK ‘N’ ROLL. There’s also, as I mentioned above, suicide, and the homosexuality alone led to one of the worst hangovers IN MY LIFE. Sure, there were some shots (it’s #3 on the Most Banned List, and YES it has been censored in TX), but the real challenge was the chugging, which I really could not stop myself from doing (even though I am terrible at it and usually end up drowning/hacking up my beer and then all of my friends make fun of me like a bunch of frat dudes) because THIS BOOK IS SO AMAZING. Charlie, even if I die from liver failure at an early age, you were worth it.

BFF Charm: Yay!

Yay BFF Charm

CHARLIE COME HERE I NEED TO HUG YOU IMMEDIATELY AND THEN PUT YOU IN MY POCKET FOR SAFEKEEPING. You are one of the most beautiful souls I’ve ever had the pleasure to know, and my heart shatters into a million pieces every time you feel desperately sad and alone. YOU’RE NOT ALONE CHARLIE! I LOVE YOU! Everything you do is wonderful and amazing and thoughtful and just… just perfect. While I think it’s awesome that Sam and Patrick have expanded your horizons, I can’t help but want to protect you from the awfulness of the world, because your sweetly innocent perspective is such a rare treasure; it’s a gift that allows you to find pure goodness in even the darkest of places and then share it with people who need it the most. So next time you’re feeling blue, call me! We can make mixtapes and read books and then I’ll take you to the Big Boy for a milkshake. We’ll actively participate and do whatever YOU want to do and have the best day ever. Together.

Swoonworthy Scale: 5

The fact that Charlie has major issues (I won’t spoil them for you but needless to say, he goes to a psychiatrist for a reason) combined with his manchild awkwardness would be enough, you might assume, to kill all possibility of swoon. But thanks to Chbosky’s talent, it’s exactly the opposite. Charlie feels things with every fiber of his being, and so when it’s bad, it’s really bad, but when it’s amazing and soaring and beautiful, it’s insanely amazing and soaring and beautiful. Part of the swoon comes from his feelings for the exquisite Sam, and part of it just comes from Charlie’s own wonderfulness. I know we typically give swoon points for romance between a couple, but this book deserves more than that, because it’s truly the stuff that le sighs are made of.

Talky Talk: Benny & Joon

Charlie definitely suffers from some kind of savant syndrome, which makes his thoughts extraordinarily perceptive and his actions delightfully weird. For example:

[My sister] is part of the Earth Day Club here in high school, and that is where she meets the boys. They are all very nice to her, and I don’t really understand why except maybe the fact that she is pretty. She is really mean to these boys. One boy has it particularly hard. I won’t tell you his name. But I will tell you all about him. He has very nice brown hair, and he wears it long with a ponytail. I think he will regret this when he looks back on his life.

Just like Benny with a couple of rolls, Chbosky skillfully walks the line between whimsical and overkill, and the end result is a funny, smart, and disconcertingly earnest voice for a boy learning to embrace his abnormality.

Offenses To My Ladylike Sensibilities: Anti-Family, Profane Language, Depictions of Sexuality, Drug Use, Obscene or Child Pornography, Suicide, Unsuited To Age Group, Promotion of the Homosexual Agenda

Chbosky should consider it a compliment when I say that I can understand why this book took the #3 slot on the Most Banned List of 2009. In other words, this book is authentic and honest and painful, and it’s EXACTLY what teenagers need to be reading. It’s explicit not for the sake of being explicit–it’s just real. Because GUESS WHAT! Some teenagers drink! And some do drugs! And some have sex! And THEY STILL TURN OUT OKAY. What really frosts my cookies is, of course, the hooplah over the fact that OMG THERE ARE GAY PEOPLE IN THIS BOOK. Even worse, according to the book banners, is that Chbosky, not to mention the local librarians, were OBVS trying to turn everyone into flaming homosexuals!!! Because being gay is, after all, a choice.*

*SARCASM. Just to be clear.

Relationship Status: The Bodyguard

This book is incredibly amazing and deserves, nay, NEEDS to be read by everyone on the planet. It has already impacted countless people, and I will do anything to insure that this masterpiece continues to reach the teenagers that need it. I vow to protect it from the dangers of censorship, whether that means fighting off psycho family valuers or even taking a freaking bullet. WHATEVER IT TAKES, CHARLIE. Because… IIIIIIII… WILL ALWAYS… LOOOVE YOOOOOUUUOO.

FTC Full Disclosure: I checked this book out from the library (where thankfully it was available!). I received neither cocktails nor compensation in exchange for this review.

Sarah lives in Austin, and believes there is no such thing as a guilty pleasure, which is part of why she started FYA in 2009. Growing up, she thought she was a Mary Anne, but she's finally starting to accept the fact that she's actually a Kristy.