Release Date: 1 February 1999
Publisher: MTV Books
Reading/Interest Level: Grades 9 & up
Starting his first year of high school, Charlie already considers himself a bit of an outsider. His older brother was a football star and always in the spotlight and his older sister has her fair share of drama, but Charlie has always simply blended into the background–that is, until one day, Sam and Patrick take notice of him and invite him into their circle. Their friendship is freely given, but Charlie, who has always been a wallflower, isn’t always sure how to handle it. Awkward encounters frequently pursue as the story tackles the high school social scene from all ends, including dances, friends, girlfriends, drinking, drugs, sexuality, abuse, break-ups, and the naivete of adolescence. The book tackles a wealth of important issues that many teens deal with on a daily basis without taking on a preachy tone, which readers will appreciate. The narrative is stark and honest and the final reveal of Charlie’s past will leave you gasping for air. Charlie’s story is one that could be told of just about any normal high school freshman trying to find their place in the world.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower is not a newer book but attention on it has been renewed as a result of the recently released movie version starring Logan Lerman, Erza Miller, and Emma Watson. Teens and adults are, not surprisingly, clamoring to read this book now, either before or after they see the movie. Renewed interest in the story gives the library a perfect reason to integrate this book into displays and programs. LGBT issues come in to play with Patrick, Charlie’s new friend, who happens to be gay. Patrick is the kind of teenager who is open about his sexuality, but he has fallen into a closed-door relationship with another boy who is not out and probably never will be. While Patrick’s story may not be the main storyline, as Charlie’s friend we see first-hand how Patrick’s situation gets out of control and where it comes to affect the main character.