The Perks of Being a Wallflower - Stephen Chbosky If I had read The Perks of Being a Wallflower in the midst of my high school years, I would have likely adored it and adopted it as my bible. Chbosky presents several universal hardships for American teens--finding friends, pursuing first romantic relationships, and trying to fit in--and makes them seem domitable. With a few years post-high school under my belt, though, I found this book to be rather inauthentic.My biggest issue arises with the narrator, Charlie, a freshman boy who lacks basic social skills and a single iota of intelligence. Written in an epistolary format, The Perks of Being a Wallflower allows the reader to feel closer to Charlie, however, since Charlie's writing is so abecedarian I could not believe his voice, the epistolary format removed me from the story. At times I laughed at how unrealistic a narrator Charlie was. Despite being 15 and the youngest child of three, Charlie had no idea how the world worked. Now I once was an overprotected, oldest child with zero teenage savoir, but even I knew about pot brownies, sex, and dating. No 15 year old kid who watches movies, has two older siblings, and goes to public school lacks the type of basic knowledge Charlie lacks. Chbosky clearly either misremembers or (fallaciously and harmfully) misrepresents the high school experience (because this book was intended to read as very realistic contemporary fiction). Charlie's incredible naivete, though aggravating and unrealistic, gave me many laughs, especially in an early scene where he gets high. For those who have finished the book who may find my assessment inconsiderate considering the discovery that Charlie was messed up from being molested as a boy, I would say that it does not matter. Although this incident likely would have affected his development, he forgot about it and lived his life as a normal kid, meaning he would at least have the knowledge possessed by a normal kid. Similar to Charlie's inauthenticity is the plot's inauthenticity. I typically stray away from contemporary YA novels because they read too much like "issue" books. My favorite contemporary YA depicts everyday, realistic events that I know would not have been crazily out of place if they happened to me as a teen. The Perks of Being a Wallflower does not fit into this type of contemporary YA. What happens in this novel is so removed from my realm of experience and that of my high school peers that I simply find it over the top. I went to a school rather like Charlie's and grew up in a family like Charlie's. The things that happen in the course of a year for Charlie and his family and friends are nothing that happened to me, my family, and friends in a seemingly similar situation. Inside this tiny book, there is marijuana, LSD, alcohol, hidden homosexual hook ups, sex, abortion, molestation, domestic violence, tragic car accidents, and many more "hot topics". Seriously, most teens don't live like this (unless I somehow lived under a rock without knowing it). Sure, there's drinking and sex and occasional drug use, but for all this to occur around the same unremarkable boy??? It's just ridiculous if Chbosky expects us to believe that! At one point during the novel, I thought, "the only issue left to include is an HIV positive diagnosis, and with 50 pages left in the book, it is not infeasible." Alas, there was no HIV, but it would not have surprised me one bit if there were because EVERYTHING else happened.In conclusion, I enjoyed The Perks of Being a Wallflower. It is a short read, and there are some important ideas here. But Chbosky seemed to be aiming for the ultimate depiction of American teenagehood, and in that effort, he falls woefully short. Below are some of my favorite quotes:Nice deconstruction of the MPDG "I just think it's bad when a boy looks at a girl and thinks that the way he sees the girl is better than the girl actually is."I like his assessment of what is considered a good movie (or good book, good music, etc): "The movie itself was very interesting, but I didn't think it was very good because I didn't really feel different when it was over."The ultimate theme of the novel: "I was crying because I was suddenly very aware of the fact that it was me standing up in that tunnel with the wind over my face. Not caring if I saw downtown. Not even thinking about it. Because I was standing in the tunnel. And I was really there. And that was enough to make me feel infinite."