Shirley Marr's Reviews > The Perks of Being a Wallflower

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
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's review
Dec 01, 2011

liked it
bookshelves: usa-crossover
Recommended to Shirley by: Tatiana
Recommended for: Reynje

"And in that moment, I swear we were infinite." URGH! I hate that quote! It smacks of a forced whimsy and I bet you that nobody actually knows what it means because they don't want to be outed as a non-cool kid, so everyone pretends that it's deep instead of perhaps the matter of the truth - that it probably doesn't make any sense and therefore means squat all.

This quote just makes me think of this: The Infinite Cat Project. But that type of infinity is better because it a) involves cats and c) is actually cool because it knows that its own infinity doesn't have a point. As you can probably tell, I went into this book not expecting to like it much. Actually secretly, I probably just wanted to make fun of hipsters and also the very Nineties photo of the author on the back cover (is that a chambray shirt I see?).

What I didn't expect was to like it. Yes. I really liked The Perks of Being a Wallflower! I am not as pugnacious as not to be won over by excellent writing, characterisation and this oh so black and dry sense of humour. If this humour was any blacker and drier, it would be beef jerky. Written as a set of letters from a young teen Charlie to an identified reader, this format is fraught with danger. I mean, to read like a proper letter, each 'chapter" can't be too long, it must be frank and it can't smack of looking like it has a plot because then it might as well be a normal chapter book. On the other hand, can letters be interesting and can it possibly amount to anything in the end?

The verdict on my behalf is mixed. Chbosky nails the letter part. Charlie's revelations don't hold much back and they read very naturally and convincingly. The portrait that he paints of his friends and family are beautiful - and even managed to melt my heart in Part 2 with the descriptions of the extended family and the grumpy old Great Grandfather in particular. And it is dead funny. Especially the straight-face and dead-pan narrative of Charlie and his first girlfriend Mary Elizabeth who wants to "expose" him to the cool things in life, which manages to poke fun at hipsters ... within a book aimed at hipsters. Just like that song Pumped Up Kicks that makes the hipsters want to dance, but it actually about domestic violence. Stephen Chbosky, your humour pleases me.

On the "undecided" front, I am not sure about Charlie himself as a character. He doesn't seem smart enough to be the genius he is touted as (Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time runs rings over this) and the fact the author wants to make him some type of Holden Caufield shows and is awkward. But I like Charlie and his good intentions (even though I am not convinced of him). Like how he believes he should buy a present for his mum on his own birthday cos she was there too. Wow. Like, seriously, you're making my heart drop.

On the no-no-no front... I was going to cruise home with four stars, but the ending ruined it for me. Stephen Chbosky - why do you take a wonderful female character that you have so carefully built with so much respect for womankind, who ends up as my favourite character - only to have her sprout some out-of-character drivel (that makes even less sense that your la-la-la about infinity) and then proceed to destroy her? I know you wrote a book about self-sabotaging emos, but are you one yourself? And also. An epilogue. What? This is a set of letters, you didn't want to write a traditional novel remember? Why does it have an epilogue then? I've never received "an epilogue" in the post before. That kinda snapped me out of the special space where I believed I was the receiver of Charlie's "letters" and then it suddenly made me realise I was reading a "novel". Aww, disappointed.

Finally, let me address you directly, dear author, in the spirit of The Perks.

Dear Mr Chbosky,

Overall, a brave and different novel. I like the way that all the violence against the passive females in the text made me, a female reader, feel extremely aggressive and I went ahhhh. I know what you are doing. I love you Stephen (can I call you that?). You are smart. You almost had me. Not quite, but if you're in town and still have that chambray shirt and that slicked back hair - call me. Leave that pick up line of yours at home.

Love, Shirley

This review also appears on my blog Books on Marrs.

While I am contemplating my own infinity-ness, let me compose a poem to Reynje, who read this book with me. Make sure you check out her review. It will make your eyes hurt from its brilliance. Money guaranteed.

Ode to the Space Between Us
(for Reynje)
A poem that is so hip, it only sporadicaly ryhmes

Once in a city called Perth
The most isolated capital city in the world
Population three
Tim Winton, Sam Worthington and me
And also the most windiest in the world
I blame it on Tim Winton
I feel so cold and lonely
So I wrap my scarf around me tighter
And think of Reynje on the East Coast
Knitting a tea cosy around a cat
Because she is a hipster
And we read The Perks of Being a Wallflower together
And I cry
And The Fremantle Doctor dries my eyes
And I ask Tim Winton
Why they call the wind The Doctor
And Tim says to me
In Yea Olde Days
When everyone died from the plague
Except me and Tim and Sam
They burnt all the bodies at Freo
And the wind carried the plumes into Perth
And the air smelt like death
Tim Winton says West Aussies are a bunch of ironic bastards
But with a happenin' sense of humour
Isn’t that very hipsterish?
And I cry
And I mourn for my childhood
And all I want to do is drink brandy with Reynje
And listen to her Smiths records
But I can never leave
But it doesn’t matter
Because I am inifinite
And The Doctor brings hope from the sea
Tomorrow, I will go surfing with Tim Winton
But only because Kirsty Eagar is not available



I got the snot yellow/green one!

Jump on my Fixie, Reynje?

It's another beaut Great Aussie Coast-to-Coast readalong!


Reynje... as the misunderstood geek girl who wears glasses that don't actually have any glass in them.

Shirley... as the overgrown 20 something year old trying to relieve her glory tween years in a 90s throwback flannel shirt and wool cap.
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
December 1, 2011 – Shelved
January 14, 2012 –
page 15
7.04% "can we stop crying yet?"
January 14, 2012 –
page 73
34.27% "Oh my favourite, when a novel suddenly breaks out in an emo poem..."
January 14, 2012 –
page 105
49.3% "Into Part 3. So... does it go weird in a good way or is the point where the book starts to spiral downwards?"
January 15, 2012 –
page 147
January 16, 2012 –
page 179
84.04% "I'm almost there Reynje!! *Keeps peddling on the fixie.* Dammit, I need gears!"
January 17, 2012 – Shelved as: usa-crossover

Comments (showing 1-50 of 60) (60 new)

Tatiana I see you just couldn't resist my promo;)

Good luck!

Shirley Marr Thanks Tatiana! We love your bad reviews! Who says that a bad review turns readers off? (prob only authors that sit around and cry all day about their first world problems)

Reynje I see you have thrown down, hipster style! I accept, with a flourish of my trilby :)

(Let me just track down a copy and we will line up this so-hip-it-hurts readalong).

My tumblr is here. Its kind of a visual inspiration blog, so if you hit archive it's like a topographical map of my brain :)

message 4: by [deleted user] (new)

*stalky stalk*
Rey, your tumblr is so pretty! It makes me want to tumble too!

Reynje YOU'RE pretty, Trin. You're pretty. :)

But thank you.

Shirley Marr Woah, I just looked inside Reynje's brain and it's... beautiful.

I reckon Reynje is one of those wistful intelligent girls that like to read books under a tree during lunchtime. If we went to the same school, we would so not be in the same crowd!

Reynje Haha! Not quite..

I bet you were a cool rebel. Swinging on your chair and breaking the uniform policy :)

Reynje Would you believe that not one of the five libraries in my council has a copy of this? This is Melbourne! There should be multiple copies available for multitude of hipsters. As Alf Stewart would say, "It's a flamin' outrage."

Will look further afield and report back!

Shirley Marr Would you believe I actually have to queue to get this one out at my library? I didn't even know Perth had hipsters! So no luck for me either...

Reynje I may have to wrestle it out the hands of a Smiths t-shirt wearing, floppy fringed boy on the tram, but by hook or by crook I will get my hands on it somehow.

Shirley Marr Yes do that Rey... and that ensuing scene my friend, will probably be the opening chapter of the next Gabrielle Williams novel;-)

Reynje Yes, yes! A thousands times yes! *jumps on Shirley's fixie*

I can start tonight if you like.

Let's rock this book :)

Shirley Marr YAY!!!

Starts peddling towards the organic mart

I have NO idea whether I will love it or loathe it so YES, let's commence!

message 14: by [deleted user] (new)

Yay! Stalky stalk :)

Reynje My hipster glasses have plastic lenses, I'll have you know! :D

message 16: by [deleted user] (new)

Man I just scrolled up and I've already claimed stalker's rights twice, you two should be very afraaaaaaaid teehee

message 17: by Reynje (last edited Jan 14, 2012 02:15AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Reynje I'm not joking, I am actually wearing my fake hipster glasses to get in the zone..

Shirley Marr Reynje wrote: "I'm not joking, I am actually wearing my fake hipster glasses to get in the zone.."

PICS PLEASE! Or we dun believe you! *sticks tongue out*

@Trin - you've won a meat tray for the effort

I hang my head in shame, I have not read very far... but I plan to catch up tonight... If I resist the urge to punch in the narrator *two fists*

message 19: by Jo (new) - rated it 3 stars


*disappears into the night*

Also, Rey. I hope you are joking about your fake plastic glasses. :-|

*pushes her real glasses up and glares*

Reynje Would I lie to you ladies? Even though I risk incurring the wrath of real glasses-wearers? :)

*twirls hipster glasses while grinning*

message 21: by [deleted user] (new)

Mm Sam.........

Reynje Tomorrow, I will go surfing with Tim Winton
But only because Kirsty Eagar is not available


I ♥ this so much :)

message 23: by Limonessa (new)

Limonessa Why are you not doing anything with Sam Worthington?! :D

Reynje Lisa O. wrote: "Why are you not doing anything with Sam Worthington?! :D"

^ This comment is awesome :)

Shirley Marr LOL! Lisa is the cutest!

But are you ready for the answer ladies?

Are you really?

I'm going to hide this behind a spoiler cos it might scar you for life

Because someone ate all my Christmas puddings.

(view spoiler)

Reynje LOL Shirley :)

message 27: by [deleted user] (new)

Oh dear advert your eyes! Sam! Where's your terminator ripped bod?

Shirley Marr I know Trin, I only watched that movie just for him!

message 29: by Taneika (new)


Shirley Marr Oh I forgot, let me correct that, including Tans, Perth has a population of four people :)

message 31: by Jasprit (new)

Jasprit this is freaking hilarious Shirley. :D

message 32: by Taneika (new)

Taneika Shirley wrote: "Oh I forgot, let me correct that, including Tans, Perth has a population of four people :)"

Hahaha, why thankyou Shirley Wurly :) That picture and review was hilarious, and I don't expect you to change your entire (AMAZING) poem ;)

Shirley Marr Thanks Jasprit, I think Reynje's emo poem is better cos it's actually a poem, mine is... just garbage actually!

LOL Tans, Curly Wurlys are my favourite!

Reynje I'm going to send you an epilogue in the post. It's going to be all about how infinite you are, and meta-hipsterness.

In this moment, I swear, you are awesome.

Michelle I love this review :)

Reynje A hipster tree fell in the forest...




message 37: by Shirley (last edited Jan 18, 2012 10:49PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Shirley Marr Thanks Maree!

As for you Rey, I better get that epilogue for Valentine's Day!

message 38: by Shirley (last edited Jan 18, 2012 10:50PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Shirley Marr And btw if some floppy haired hipster was wearing what that tree is wearing, Rey, he'd be your ideal man

Reynje That is scarily.... true :)

Shirley Marr Sam wrote: ""If this humour was any blacker and drier, it would be beef jerky."

I may use that line in real life. :D"

Do it Sam! I've learnt "I want to kiss your brain" from Jo earlier this week and I'm going to try using it on the weekend...

Michelle Please do tell us how that goes :)

Shirley Marr Insane minds converge here on GR... (view spoiler)

Corey Regalado : / Well, this was scathing and left a bad taste in my mouth.

Shirley Marr Sorry Corey, but thanks for your comment!

Annalisa I agree about the beef jerky humor and Holden Caufield-ness and especially about the letters. It is oh so hard to write epistolary novels but Chbosky does it well. But I love the infinite quote! It totally put me back to being sixteen and driving on a sunny day when you're supposed to be in school with the windows down and you feel... infinite. There is no better word for that awesome feeling.

Shirley Marr Awww sorry Annalisa I bashed your quote! I'm glad that it has a special meaning for you - just cos I have a black black heart doesn't mean someone else doesn't get it *hugs*

message 47: by Annalisa (last edited Jun 06, 2012 08:09PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Annalisa Haha. I don't care that you don't like the quote. I get why it could sound empty. YA is full of purple prose. I just happen to get that quote. Totally loved your review though.

message 48: by papalbina (new)

papalbina your review is awesome :) thanks to you now i feel like... perhaps... one day... i will read this book. thank you!! ^_____^

Shirley Marr It's definitely worth a read papalbina (view spoiler) and if I've inspired you in anyway then LOL and thank you!

message 50: by Silent_count (new)

Silent_count Dear Shirley,
Thanks for your review. I found it very enjoyable.

Into the glorious future Shirley rode, confident in her ability to overcome whatever challenges life dared to scatter across her path. Her optimism undoubtedly arose from the discovery that the world is no longer sullied by the absence of a letter with an epilogue. :p

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