Jenn’s Dusty Shelf

Stephen Chbosky has published only one novel in his career. Chbosky more commonly authors screenplays and television scripts, although his novel, The Perks of Being a Wallflower is one of the most popular books floating around America’s youth. The story follows Charlie, an awkward freshman and his path to self-discovery through writing letters to someone he has never met.

Charlie enters high school with no friends or direction but is mentored by an English teacher that teaches him about life through important literary works. In writing the book, Chbosky said he was heavily influenced by J.D. Salinger’s groundbreaking novel, The Catcher in the Rye and there are apparent parallels between the protagonists of both novels.

Siblings Samantha and Patrick befriend Charlie and introduce him to a world of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, sex and drugs. The novel peers into the teenage drug scene through the eyes of an innocent bystander that succumbs to his curiosity.

The themes in the novel may be adult oriented but the context is heartwarming and extremely moving. The Perks of Being a Wallflower may be a coming-of-age novel, but the heartfelt letters Charlie writes are truly more mature and thoughtful than any freshman I know.


Charlie falls in love with Sam although there are a million reasons why he shouldn’t. In their time together of mixed tapes and poetry, an intimacy develops, beyond physicality or friendship.

In riveting scene, Charlie is getting a ride home from Sam and Patrick in their family pick-up truck. He is sitting in the back of the truck with Sam and the mixed tape Charlie had made Patrick for Christmas is blaring on the truck’s stereo. As the vehicle passes through a tunnel, Sam stands up in the bed of the truck. Charlie then grabs her hand and stands up with her and in the wind gushing tunnel, the two stand together with the rushing air around them. Charlie describes this instance as ‘infinite.’ This term has become vocabulary to me because of how beautiful of a feeling it creates in this scene.

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