Review: The Perks Of Being A Wallflower

My Date with a Movie, a Book, and a Box of Tissues

If I know a movie that is based on a book will be coming out, I try to read the book before I see the movie. Still, from time to time the reverse occurs, and the movie encourages me to read the book. Being a semi out-of-the-closet Twi-Hard, I was watching the latest Twilight installment on DVD and a preview of a movie about wallflowers caught my attention. I filed it away in my memory under “Yeah I’d like to see that one. It’s about unconventional high school students in the 90s. Like me!” I went to high school in the 90s, and the preview included a clip of the characters watching The Rocky Horror Picture Show, so my mind was made up that The Perks of Being a Wallflower was a must-watch movie.

Click through for my thoughts on both the movie and the book by Stephen Chbosky. See whether you think that you might enjoy them, too!

Good times!
Some of the scenes in the preview for The Perks of Being a Wallflower seemed to parallel my own life. In my junior year of high school, my friends and I were often at the theater watching The Rocky Horror Picture Show. I mean, we even made it the after-prom spot; we were doing the Time Warp in our formal attire! My group of friends, well, we were the Island of Misfit Toys, the geeks, the “marches to the beat of a different drummer” crowd. In other words, the 90s wallflowers depicted in the preview. As if there weren't already enough reasons for me to watch this movie, I discovered it was produced by Summit Entertainment and Emma Watson was one of the really just became a “well duh” choice.

Then a few weeks passed, and I was out with my sister-in-law, and I noticed the movie and mentioned to her that I wanted to see it. To which she was like, “I saw it and it’s GREAT and totally a movie that screams YOU!!!” She did give me one important heads-up. She clued me in that it is a lot more serious than the previews make it look, and that it deals with some heavy issues. Say no more, I’m sold, and with that I got my hands on the movie!

You’ll need a box of
Per my sister-in-law’s advice, I had a box of tissues next to me as I started to watch the movie alone. If I know a movie has the power to cause me to be emotional, I will wait and watch it by myself, so I can take in all the emotions possible. (Let me be honest, it’s so I can do the ugly cry with no witnesses.) Even forewarned about the difficult subjects, I was not prepared for just how connected I would be to this movie. There were many mirrors into my own teen years that went beyond just The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Like the lead character, a high school freshman named Charlie, I have battled for years to maintain my own mental health, and the fact that I could personally relate to that and many of Charlie’s other issues made the movie more powerful for me.

I know this is a blog about books, and so far most of this review revolves around the movie, but in truth this is one of the best book-to-movie adaptations I’ve ever watched. The casting of the three leads was incredibly spot on—even if I had read the book prior to watching the movie, I would still have chosen the same set of actors.

The book shines a bright light on a range of difficult issues that teens often grapple with, such as abuse, mental health, discrimination, and the general pitfalls of navigating one’s high school years. I don’t want to say it has the answers for coping with and processing all this chaos successfully. It does, however, provide a proper reflection of what Charlie goes through as he spirals into the depths of a depression related to the struggles that plague him. He lost his aunt on his birthday, his best friend committed suicide during their 8th-grade year, and he wrestles with a variety of new trials and tribulations during his freshman year. His is a journey during which he comes to understand the great power of friendships forged in the fires of trauma and coming of age. Those friendships are so strong, they not only have the power to pull Charlie to the surface to escape his own depression, but also to encourage his friends to overcome their own personal traumas. At his core, Charlie just wants happiness and love for those he loves...and he sees that sometimes it can—and sometimes it cannot—be that simple.

We all need that personal lifeline.
Having run my own gauntlet of experiences in high school, some very similar to the ones Charlie went through, the memories I look back on fondly were those I made with the friends I danced the Time Warp with. They were my personal lifeline out of my own depression and the ones who cried on my shoulder through their traumatic ordeals. The friends I felt infinite with...the geeks, the nerds, The Wallflowers.

If you or anyone you know has dealt with depression, I must caution you that the book goes into many details that could trigger emotions you might not be prepared to deal with at the time. So if you are thinking of adding this book to your TBR list, you should also decide whether to read it immediately or wait until you are ready to deal with heavy topics. Bottom line for me, though: It was brilliant. Both the book and the movie are must-read/must-watch stories.

Bill smiled and continued asking me questions. Slowly, he got to “problems at home.” And I told him about the boy who makes mix tapes hitting my sister because my sister only told me not to tell mom or dad about it, so I figured I could tell Bill. He got this very serious look on his face after I told him, and he said something to me I don’t think I will forget this semester or ever.

“Charlie, we accept the love we think we deserve.”

I just stood there, quiet. Bill patted my shoulder and gave me a new book to read. He told me everything was going to be ok.

~ Charlie, talking about a conversation he had with his English teacher, Bill

Are you familiar with this book or movie? If you are, I hope you’ll share your thoughts below. Mental health is a topic that I definitely think we should no longer stay silent about. It’s so important to let the kids who feel like they don’t fit in know they are not alone. There are always others in the Land of Misfit Toys, being the Beautiful Wallflowers!


  1. Good review, Natalie! If there is a movie coming out that is based on a book, I would read the book first, even if that means that I'd end up waiting for the movie to be on dvd. I am pretty sure that if I watch a movie first, I will never read the book since I'll already know what happens. The one exception is The Princess Bride, which is still on my tbr, but I truly do want to read it.


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