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THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWERStephen Chbosky1

Published by: POCKET BOOKS, Simon and Schuster Inc., 1230 Avenue of the Americas, NewYork, NY 10020.Copyright 1999 by Stephen ChboskyBOOK JACKET INFORMATIONstanding on the fringes of life . offers a unique perspective. But there comes a time to see what itlooks like from the dance floor.This haunting novel about the dilemma of passivity vs. passion marks the stunning debut of aprovocative new voice in contemporary fiction: The Perks Of Being A WALLFLOWERThis is the story of what it’s like to grow up in high school. More intimate than a diary, Charlie’s letters are singular and unique, hilarious and devastating. We may not know where he lives. Wemay not know to whom he is writing. All we know is the world he shares. Caught between tryingto live his life and trying to run from it puts him on a strange course through uncharted territory.The world of first dates and mixed tapes, family dramas and new friends. The world of sex, drugs,and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, when all one requires is that perfect song on that perfectdrive to feel infinite.Through Charlie, Stephen Chbosky has created a deeply affecting coming-of-age story, powerfulnovel that will spirit you back to those wild and poignant roller coaster days known as growing up.visit us on the world wide web inghttpwhststwwwlessimonsayscom wh inghttpwhststwwwmtvcom whstephen chbosky grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and graduated from the University ofSouthern California’s Filmic Writing Program. His first film, THE FOUR CORNERS OF NOWHERE, premiered at the 1995 Sundance Film Festival and went on to win Best Narrative Featurehonors at the Chicago Underground Film Festival. He is the recipient of the Abraham PolonskyScreenwriting Award for his screenplay EVERYTHING DIVIDED as well as a participant in theSundance Institute’s filmmakers’ lab for his current project, FINGERNAILS AND SMOOTHSKIN. Chbosky lives in New York.the perks of being a wallflower is his first novel.This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are products of theauthor’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons,living or dead, is entirely coincidental.For my familyacknowledgementsI just wanted to say about all those listed that there would be no book without them, and Ithank them with all of my heart.Greer Kessel Hendricks Heather Neely Lea, Fred, and Stacy Chbosky Robbie Thompson Christopher McQuarrie Margaret Mehring Stewart Stern Kate Degenhart Mark McClain Wilson DavidWilcox Kate Ward Tim Perell Jack Horner Eduardo BraniffAnd finally .2

Dr. Earl Reum for writing a beautiful poem and Patrick Comeaux for remembering it wrongwhen he was 14.3

THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWERPART ONEAugust 25, 1991 Dear friend,I am writing to you because she said you listen and understand and didn’t try to sleep with thatperson at that party even though you could have. Please don’t try to figure out who she is becausethen you might figure out who I am, and I really don’t want you to do that. I will call people bydifferent names or generic names because I don’t want you to find me. I didn’t enclose a return address for the same reason. I mean nothing bad by this. Honest.I just need to know that someone out there listens and understands and doesn’t try to sleep withpeople even if they could have. I need to know that these people exist.I think you of all people would understand that because I think you of all people are alive andappreciate what that means. At least I hope you do because other people look to you for strengthand friendship and it’s that simple. At least that’s what I’ve heard.So, this is my life. And I want you to know that I am both happy and sad and I’m still trying tofigure out how that could be.I try to think of my family as a reason for me being this way, especially after my friend Michaelstopped going to school one day last spring and we heard Mr. Vaughn’s voice on the loudspeaker.“Boys and girls, I regret to inform you that one of our students has passed on. We will hold amemorial service for Michael Dobson during assembly this Friday.”I don’t know how news travels around school and why it is very often right. Maybe it was in thelunchroom. It’s hard to remember. But Dave with the awkward glasses told us that Michael killedhimself. His mom played bridge with one of Michael’s neighbors and they heard the gunshot.I don’t really remember much of what happened after that except that my older brother cameto Mr. Vaughn’s office in my middle school and told me to stop crying. Then, he put his arm onmy shoulder and told me to get it out of my system before Dad came home. We then went to eatfrench fries at McDonald’s and he taught me how to play pinball. He even made a joke that because of me he got to skip an afternoon of school and asked me if I wanted to help him work onhis Camaro. I guess I was pretty messy because he never let me work on his Camaro before.At the guidance counselor sessions, they asked the few of us who actually liked Michael to say afew words. I think they were afraid that some of us would try to kill ourselves or something because they looked very tense and one of them kept touching his beard.Bridget who is crazy said that sometimes she thought about suicide when commercials come onduring TV. She was sincere and this puzzled the guidance counselors. Carl who is nice to everyonesaid that he felt very sad, but could never kill himself because it is a sin.This one guidance counselor went through the whole group and finally came to me.“What do you think, Charlie?”What was so strange about this was the fact that I had never met this man because he was a4

“specialist” and he knew my name even though I wasn’t wearing a name tag like they do in openhouse.“Well, I think that Michael was a nice guy and I don’t understand why he did it. As much as Ifeel sad, I think that not knowing is what really bothers me.”I just reread that and it doesn’t sound like how I talk. Especially in that office because I was crying still. I never did stop crying.The counselor said that he suspected that Michael had “problems at home” and didn’t feel likehe had anyone to talk to. That’s maybe why he felt all alone and killed himself.Then, I started screaming at the guidance counselor that Michael could have talked to me. AndI started crying even harder. He tried to calm me down by saying that he meant an adult like ateacher or a guidance counselor. But it didn’t work and eventually my brother came by the middleschool in his Camaro to pick me up.For the rest of the school year, the teachers treated me different and gave me better grades eventhough I didn’t get any smarter. To tell you the truth, I think I made them all nervous.Michael’s funeral was strange because his father didn’t cry. And three months later he left Michael’s mom. At least according to Dave at lunchtime. I think about it sometimes. I wonder whatwent on in Michael’s house around dinner and TV shows. Michael never left a note or at least hisparents didn’t let anyone see it. Maybe it was “problems at home.” I wish I knew. It might makeme miss him more clearly. It might have made sad sense.One thing I do know is that it makes me wonder if I have “problems at home” but it seems tome that a lot of other people have it a lot worse. Like when my sister’s first boyfriend started goingaround with another girl and my sister cried for the whole weekend.My dad said, “There are other people who have it a lot worse.”And my mom was quiet. And that was that. A month later, my sister met another boy andstarted playing happy records again. And my dad kept working. And my mom kept sweeping.And my brother kept fixing his Camaro. That is, until he left for college at the beginning of thesummer. He’s playing football for Penn State but he needed the summer to get his grades right toplay football.I don’t think that there is a favorite kid in our family. There are three of us and I am the youngest. My brother is the oldest. He is a very good football player and likes his car. My sister is verypretty and mean to boys and she is in the middle. I get straight A’s now like my sister and that iswhy they leave me alone.My mom cries a lot during TV programs. My dad works a lot and is an honest man. My AuntHelen used to say that my dad was going to be too proud to have a midlife crisis. It took me untilaround now to understand what she meant by that because he just turned forty and nothing haschanged.My Aunt Helen was my favorite person in the whole world. She was my mom’s sister. She gotstraight A’s when she was a teenager and she used to give me books to read. My father said that thebooks were a little too old for me, but I liked them so he just shrugged and let me read.5

My Aunt Helen lived with the family for the last few years of her life because something verybad happened to her. Nobody would tell me what happened then even though I always wanted toknow. When I was around seven, I stopped asking about it because I kept asking like kids alwaysdo and my Aunt Helen started crying very hard.That’s when my dad slapped me, saying, “You’re hurting your aunt Helen’s feelings!” I didn’twant to do that, so I stopped. Aunt Helen told my father not to hit me in front of her ever againand my father said this was his house and he would do what he wanted and my mom was quiet andso were my brother and sister.I don’t remember much more than that because I started crying really hard and after a while mydad had my mom take me to my room. It wasn’t until much later that my mom had a few glassesof white wine and told me what happened to her sister. Some people really do have it a lot worsethan I do. They really do.I should probably go to sleep now. It’s very late. I don’t know why I wrote a lot of this downfor you to read. The reason I wrote this letter is because I start high school tomorrow and I am really afraid of going.Love always,CharlieSeptember 7, 1991 Dear friend,I do not like high school. The cafeteria is called the “Nutrition Center,” which is strange. Thereis this one girl in my advanced english class named Susan. In middle school, Susan was very funto be around. She liked movies, and her brother Frank made her tapes of this great music thatshe shared with us. But over the summer she had her braces taken off, and she got a little tallerand prettier and grew breasts. Now, she acts a lot dumber in the hallways, especially when boys arearound. And I think it’s sad because Susan doesn’t look as happy. To tell you the truth, she doesn’tlike to admit she’s in the advanced english class, and she doesn’t like to say “hi” to me in the hallanymore.When Susan was at the guidance counselor meeting about Michael, she said that Michael oncetold her that she was the prettiest girl in the whole world, braces and all. Then, he asked her to “gowith him,” which was a big deal at any school. They call it “going out” in high school. And theykissed and talked about movies, and she missed him terribly because he was her best friend.It’s funny, too, because boys and girls normally weren’t best friends around my school. ButMichael and Susan were. Kind of like my Aunt Helen and me. I’m sorry. “My Aunt Helen and I.”That’s one thing I learned this week. That and more consistent punctuation.I keep quiet most of the time, and only one kid named Sean really seemed to notice me. Hewaited for me after gym class and said really immature things like how he was going to give me a“swirlie,” which is where someone sticks your head in the toilet and flushes to make your hair swirlaround. He seemed pretty unhappy as well, and I told him so. Then, he got mad and started hit6

ting me, and I just did the things my brother taught me to do. My brother is a very good fighter.“Go for the knees, throat, and eyes.”And I did. And I really hurt Sean. And then I started crying. And my sister had to leave her senior honors class and drive me home. I got called to Mr. Small’s office, but I didn’t get suspendedor anything because a kid told Mr. Small the truth about the fight.“Sean started it. It was self-defense.”And it was. I just don’t understand why Sean wanted to hurt me. I didn’t do anything to him. Iam very small. That’s true. But I guess Sean didn’t know I could fight. The truth is I could havehurt him a lot worse. And maybe I should have. I thought I might have to if he came after the kidwho told Mr. Small the truth, but Sean never did go after him. So, everything was forgotten.Some kids look at me strange in the hallways because I don’t decorate my locker, and I’m theone who beat up Sean and couldn’t stop crying after he did it. I guess I’m pretty emotional.It has been very lonely because my sister is busy being the oldest one in our family. My brotheris busy being a football player at Penn State. After the training camp, his coach said that he wassecond string and that when he starts learning the system, he will be first string.My dad really hopes he will make it to the pros and play for the Steelers. My mom is just gladhe gets to go to college for free because my sister doesn’t play football, and there wouldn’t beenough money to send both of them. That’s why she wants me to keep working hard, so I’ll get anacademic scholarship.So, that’s what I’m doing until I meet a friend here. I was hoping that the kid who told the truthcould become a friend of mine, but I think he was just being a good guy by telling.Love always,CharlieSeptember 11, 1991 Dear friend,I don’t have a lot of time because my advanced english teacher assigned us a book to read, andI like to read books twice. Incidentally, the book is To Kill a Mockingbird. If you haven’t read it, Ithink you should because it is very interesting. The teacher has assigned us a few chapters at a time,but I do not like to read books like that. I am halfway through the first time.Anyway, the reason I am writing to you is because I saw