Book to Big Screen: “The Perks of Being a Wallflower”


Courtesy of

Skylar Sharkey

You’ve spent weeks anticipating your favorite book’s movie adaptation. You’ve obsessed over the cast, meticulously examined the soundtrack, poured over the fan theories. You’ve cleared your schedule to ensure you’re available to see your favorite characters come to life on the big screen. You’ve planned every detail down to the showtime and the seat number. You’re anticipating a masterpiece. 

And it’s an absolute failure. 

Us book lovers have all experienced the disappointment that comes with a terrible book to movie adaptation. Our hopes are crushed, our dreams shattered. Let me save you some time. 

I’ve read a lot of books. I’ve watched a lot of movies. I haven’t seen everything, but I have a fairly large repertoire of worthwhile adaptations. 

Both the book and the movie “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” will live up to your high expectations. “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” was written and directed by Stephen Chbosky. Though the book was released in February of 1999, the movie adaptation was released nearly a decade and a half later in September of 2012. 

“The Perks of Being a Wallflower” follows the story of 15-year-old Charlie, who begins writing letters to an unknown recipient as he enters high school. Charlie is struggling with the suicide of his best friend as well as the death of his aunt Helen, who sexually abused him when he was a child. Charlie befriends two seniors, Sam and Patrick, who refer to themselves as ‘Wallflowers,’ and he also finds a mentor in his English teacher Bill. His mental health rapidly declines as his freshman year comes to a close, realizing that he will no longer be able to lean on his graduating friends. 

No one who loved the book will hate the movie. The fact that Chbosky wrote the book, as well as the screenplay, ensures that the themes of sexual assault, adolescence, mental health, etc., carry on from the book to the film. Both the book and the movie do a fantastic job of capturing that childhood sense of nostalgia that comes with being in high school. 

“The Perks of Being a Wallflower” reaches its target audience; it’s a love letter to all the awkward misfits. The kids who never truly fit in. The ones who struggled to find their place.

What I found particularly endearing was how Charlie’s relationships developed between him and his senior friends. Charlie is so earnest and heartfelt, and his feelings about Sam and Patrick are clear; they are saving his life. His mental health worsens as he comes to the realization that they will leave them after graduation. Charlie’s friends are his entire world. I am reminded of how, as a student in high school, my world has a focal point; my friends, my family, my school. 

No matter what age you are, you will connect with Charlie’s tale of growing up and growing from trauma. Both the book and the movie are classic, and I consider “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” one of the best books to movie adaptations of all time.