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The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Young adult

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Debut

We love supporting debut authors. Congrats, Stephen Chbosky, on your first book!

by Stephen Chbosky

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Quick take

Get the 20th anniversary edition of this modern cult classic so you can say you've read the book behind the movie.

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Emotional

    Emotional

  • Illustrated icon, Social_Issues

    Social issues

  • Illustrated icon, Well_Known

    Famous author

  • Illustrated icon, Now_a_Movie

    Now a movie

  • Illustrated icon, Sexual_Content

    Sexual Content

Synopsis

The critically acclaimed debut novel from Stephen Chbosky follows observant “wallflower” Charlie as he charts a course through the strange world between adolescence and adulthood. First dates, family drama, and new friends. Sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Devastating loss, young love, and life on the fringes. Caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it, Charlie must learn to navigate those wild and poignant roller-coaster days known as growing up.

Content warning

  • Themes of depression and abuse
  • Sexual content

Free sample

Check out a preview of The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

August 25, 1991

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. Please don't try to figure out who she is because then you might figure out who I am, and I really don't want you to do that. I will call people by different names or generic names because I don't want you to find me. I didn't enclose a return address for the same reason. I mean nothing bad by this. Honest.

I just need to know that someone out there listens and understands and doesn't try to sleep with people even if they could have. I need to know that these people exist.

I think you of all people would understand that because I think you of all people are alive and appreciate what that means. At least I hope you do because other people look to you for strength and friendship and it's that simple. At least that's what I've heard.

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.

I try to think of my family as a reason for me being this way, especially after my friend Michael stopped going to school one day last spring and we heard Mr. Vaughn's voice on the loudspeaker.

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Why I love it

There are hundreds upon hundreds of books published each year. Many of these books are loved by readers upon their release. Many of these books receive rave reviews. But only some of these books will continue to be well-loved and well-reviewed twenty years after their publication.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is one of those books.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of this modern classic, but the book is as relevant today as it was back then. It tells the story of Charlie, an introverted teen just trying to find his place in the world. He’s experiencing love; he’s experiencing heartbreak; he makes impactful friendships; he makes some bad choices. Who among us, in 2019, can’t relate?

Since Charlie’s time, we’ve replaced his letter-writing with texting, cassettes with Spotify. But the themes this book covers continue to be universal. If you haven’t picked up this emotional coming-of-age story, what better time to do so than right now?

Member ratings (1,239)

  • Sophia F.

    North Arlington, NJ

    It’s so easy to relate to Charlie—his fears, joys, loneliness. As we read his letters & share in his struggles, whether on the page or in our own lives, we see we aren’t alone & know we’ll make it too

  • Derrick B.

    Charlotte, NC

    This book will make you laugh, cry, gasp, fume, and hope several times before you turn the last page. Plus it’s got a killer broody built-in soundtrack that’ll get you in your feels. A modern classic.

  • Megan B.

    Liberty, MO

    This transports you back to the 90’s. The good music, the bad- drugs, alcohol. I love the narrator- he gives really insightful truths, while exposing the dark, he remains hopeful. Dark themes,yet hope

  • Tess W.

    Belleville , KS

    This book is simply one of my all time favorites. I would read this every summer vacation and fall in love with it all over again. It’s soul crushing and beautiful at the same time. Highly recommend!

  • Amy R.

    Mesa, AZ

    First time reading this book I was 16, it felt good to know I wasnt alone but couldnt grasp the epilogues hopeful tone. Now reading it at 36 it was like a different experience. I LOVED the new letter!

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Young adult
View all
Ruthless Vows
What the River Knows
As Long as the Lemon Trees Grow
Dragonfruit
The Reappearance of Rachel Price
Gwen & Art Are Not in Love
Check & Mate
Divine Rivals
Legendborn
Foul Lady Fortune
Anna K Away
I Must Betray You
A Wilderness of Stars
Warrior Girl Unearthed
Bloodmarked
Instructions for Dancing
These Violent Delights
The Boy in the Red Dress
Color Me In
Not So Pure and Simple
Throw Like a Girl
Frankly in Love
The Queen of Nothing
Wayward Son
The Stars and the Blackness Between Them
Anna K
Patron Saints of Nothing
The Kingdom of Back
Yes No Maybe So
Looking for Alaska
Permanent Record
Full Disclosure
Oasis
Where the World Ends
I Have No Secrets
Song of the Crimson Flower
When the Stars Lead to You
All the Bright Places
Saving Zoë
Hello Girls
Symptoms of a Heartbreak
All of Us with Wings
The Boy and Girl Who Broke the World
Past Perfect Life
There's Something About Sweetie
Again, But Better
Sky Without Stars
How (Not) to Ask a Boy to Prom
Night Music
Shout
The Deceivers
The Astonishing Color of After
Top Ten
Turtles All the Way Down
Little & Lion
A Million Junes
And We're Off
The Sun Is Also a Star
Salt to the Sea