It's 1991, and Charlie has just begun high school. He's nervous because he's a very shy kid. He doesn't have a lot of friends and doesn't make them easily. At least until he meets Sam and Patrick, who are stepsiblings and are in their senior year. Charlie immediately falls for Sam, though she tells him not to think of her that way, and Patrick has a secret gay relationship with the star quarterback, Brad. It should be no surprise that by the end of the novel Charlie will have been kissed by both Patrick and Sam. Kissed by them because he's far too passive to actually initiate the kissing. These are his closest friends, and he learns a lot from them. In one profound scene he is so happy to be with them that he proclaims he feels "infinite."
|Charlie, from the upcoming MTV movie|
|Sam, from the upcoming MTV movie|
His English teacher, Bill, recognizes this too. He befriends Charlie and lets him borrow books, modern day classics like Catcher in the Rye, and asks him to write essays about them. Bill is a cool teacher. I want to be like Bill. He has a dream of leaving teaching and writing plays, but likes teaching so much he decides not to quit. The friendship between these two blossoms and we learn Bill's intentions towards the end in perhaps the novel's most touching scene.
|Patrick, from the upcoming MTV movie|
Despite all of this focus on sorrow, The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a soothing read due to its poetic language. Chbosky so accurately reflects high school life that it made me think back to my high school days. My first crush. My first heartache. Like Charlie, I was amazed when somebody else regarded me as a somebody, rather than the nobody I acted like I was. That was why Bill wanted him to participate, and so do Sam and Patrick. What Chbosky's trying to say is that you can learn a lot by being a wallflower, but to experience life and feel "infinite" requires that you actually do something rather than wait for it to happen. You might be surprised by the results.