Press Release – The Perks of Being a Wallflower

 

Press Release – Perks of Being a Wallflower

·      Title: The Perks of Being a Wallflower

·      Author: Stephen Chbosky

·      Illustration:

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Book Summary:
Just like the books Thirteen Stories That Capture the Agony and Ecstasy of Being Thirteen by James Howe and The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie, The Perks of Being A Wallflower is a coming-of-age novel that follows the protagonist through his/her struggle whilst going through many changes and challenges that they are faced with during their painstaking journey to adulthood. The book is an epistolary novel, which is composed of only letters written from the protagonist’s perspective. The letters were addressed to an anonymous receiver, and Charlie didn’t include his location or what the actual names of the characters in the book were. These individual letters were woven together by Stephen Chbosky to portray the hardship and puzzling life of being a teenager.

 

 

This novel focuses on a 15-year-old boy named Charlie, who at first was really shy and unquestionably naive. After having lost his only friend Michael, he nervously starts high school. Charlie keeps his participation and socializing with his classmates to a minimum, but gets drawn into reading by his Language and Literature teacher. Trying to find fictional characters to relate to, he slowly realizes that he has some sort of mental issues which make him have anxiety as well as anger attacks. Charlie experiments with drugs and alcohol to try and cope with those frightful outbursts but realizes the harmful truth behind the choices he made. Throughout the entire novel, Charlie learns the importance of friendship, family, and soundtracks as he goes through the exhausting and demanding transition from childhood to adulthood.

 

Protagonist – “On Shoulders” by Chef’special      (Youtube)

 

 

Charlie, the protagonist of the novel, is a very young and curious boy who goes through a lot during his year of high school. He struggled at first and he felt like it was “burning fire, crashing lightning” when he took his “first steps on the storyline”. Charlie is also a wallflower and isn’t part of the ‘the current’ of the crowd. The song goes: “That river don’t flow for me, no, that river is cold” describing how Charlie doesn’t like ‘swimming’ in the chilly river and how he doesn’t feel that he’s part of it. The chorus then goes: “I know I don’t know that much,” showing how Charlie is naive and feels clueless compared to his older friends. During the entire novel he’s “trying to embrace it all” but he still believes that “even now [he’s] so much older, it still feels like [he’s] on [their] shoulders”. Charlie feels that he depends on his friends for support and that he can’t do anything without them.

Antagonist – “Spirits” by The Strumbellas      (Youtube)
The antagonist in this novel is Charlie’s mental issues and society as they clash against each other, trying to fit like a puzzle. Charlie doesn’t know what exactly is wrong with him, but he does know that “something inside has changed” because he was molested as a child. It’s hard for him to fit into society’s teenage ‘mold’ especially when he’s got things he doesn’t understand going on in his head like “guns” and “spirits” that “won’t go”. He faces depression, anxiety and anger issues and tries to find people to relate to, but instead Bill introduces him to books. He draws a conclusion that “we’re all strange, and maybe we don’t want to change” but he still feels he’s somehow different; like he’s “spent a lot of nights on the run, and [he] thinks, ‘oh, like I’m lost and can’t be found’”.
Setting – “Imagine” by Jack Johnson    (Youtube)

 

 

In the novel, Charlie lives in the suburbs of Pennsylvania where he’s surrounded by a close community with not much of a significant past. No big events are found where he lives, all that really happens is between his friends, school, and relatives. “Imagine there’s no Heaven, no Hell below us and above us is only sky” shows how Charlie makes the most of what he’s got. He’s “living for today” in his hometown like “there’s no [other] countries” he wishes to live in. Through the book, Charlie mentions a few key locations like the cafe, his school, the theater and the tunnel which make up his town.

Story Event – “Drops of Jupiter” by Train      (Youtube)

 

 

In the beginning of the novel, Charlie describes how Sam is gorgeous and that he wants to get into a relationship with her. “Now that she’s back in the atmosphere, with drops of Jupiter in her hair” describes how she has an unfamiliar look to her, like his view on her changed once he realized that Sam doesn’t see him in that way. Charlie feels disappointed but then faces the truth and tries to feel happy for Sam and Craig. “Tell me did you sail across the sun, did you travel to the Milky Way to see the lights all faded, and that heaven is overrated” goes the song, showing how deep inside Charlie is hoping she’ll regret having ‘traveled so far’ just to realize that Craig’s ‘light’ isn’t as bright as she expected. Charlie then wonders “did Venus really blow your mind, was it everything you wanted to find” or “did you miss me while you were looking for yourself out there.” Then Charlie looks back at the past, painfully recalling all they had done together; “Can you imagine no love, pride, deep-fried chicken, your best friend always sticking up for you even when I know you’re wrong. Can you imagine no first dance, freeze dried romance five-hour phone conversation, the best soy latte that you ever had, and me.”

Conflict – “Invisible” by 5 Seconds of Summer      (Youtube)

 

 

The conflict in this book is when Charlie struggles to fit in and feels like he doesn’t belong. Charlie slowly passes days at his new high school but feels like every day is “Another [ordinary] day of painted walls and football on the tv, no one sees me.” Charlie feels different than the rest, especially because he doesn’t “participate” like Bill, his teacher, told him to do so. His only true friend in the very start of the novel was Michael, but he committed suicide, and charlie couldn’t move on; “wasted days, dreaming of the times I know I can’t get back, seems I just lost track.” Even when he started bonding with some of his classmates, charlie “just walked away” afraid he wasn’t worthy enough of being a good friend. “Who am I, who am I, when i don’t know myself,” Charlie thought when he was lost and confused because he couldn’t figure out who he really was and what he wanted. He felt alone and “Invisible” during this harsh period in the novel.

Resolution – “Fly Away” by 5 Seconds of Summer     (Youtube)

 

 

After Charlie went to Sam’s house along with all his friends for a farewell party, he found out that his aunt had harassed him when he was young and suffered tremendously. He woke up in a mental hospital and only then Charlie realizes that he is ready to take on what the future is going to throw at him. “I won’t waste another day, wishing this would fade away, running but not looking back”, describes how Charlie has accepted his past but wants to move on, not letting the past stop him from living in the present. Charlie wants to “take [his] heart to the end of the world, and fly away tonight.” While at the mental hospital, Charlie’s friends came over to visit and he then became aware of that he truly did have friends and family who cared about him and who were there to support him.

Theme – “Photograph” by Ed Sheeran      (Youtube)

 

 

A major theme that was evident in the book was friendship. In the novel, Charlie realizes that there are different kinds of love, but the most powerful can be the love and passion that you feel towards your friends. “Loving can hurt” for sure, but Charlie knows that “loving can heal, loving can mend your soul”. Charlie realizes that friends can be like family and family is forever. Charlie wishes he could “keep this love in a photograph” every time they “made memories [only] for [themselves]. Where [they’re] eyes are never closing, hearts are never broken and time’s forever frozen still”. Without friends by his side, Charlie would be torn apart and after having had a taste of what it’s like, he wishes he could stay friends forever with the people who were once strangers to him.

Symbol – “Car Radio” by Twenty One Pilots         (Youtube)

 

 

A very powerful symbol that is used in this novel is music and the soundtracks Charlie makes. When struggling with something challenging and unpredictable, a way to get out of the stress he’s in, Charlie listens to music to escape the present. Without music, Charlie is “forced to deal with what [he] feels” because “there is no distraction to mask what is real”. Music helps him cover up his emotions. “Oh my, too deep. Please stop thinking. I liked it better when my car had sound,” shows how Charlie would go crazy without music. He would “have these thoughts, so often [he] ought” about insane or unhealthy things because he wouldn’t know how to release all his anger, sadness, confusion, and loneliness. “Somebody stole my car radio and now I just sit in silence. Sometimes quiet is violence”. Charlie needs music, or he wouldn’t be able to cope with any of what has happened to him.

 

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