The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a semi-autobiographical novel written by Stephen Chbosky and published in 1999. It is Chbosky's most famous work, and it has been translated into 31 languages and has remained on the New York Times Bestseller list for several years. Chbosky has revealed in interviews that many of the characters in the novel are based on people he went to high school with or interacted with as a young man. However, he has declined to directly identify these individuals, with one exception: the character Bill, a high school English teacher, was based on Chbosky's mentor Stewart Stern.
Although the novel has been greatly successful, it has also stirred controversy because of its discussion of sexuality, drug use, and mental illness. The Perks of Being a Wallflower has repeatedly been listed as one of the top 10 most frequently banned books, according to the American Library Association. Supporters of the novel praise the intimate voice of the main character, a high school freshman named Charlie, and Chbosky has commented that he wanted the readers to feel that "Charlie was speaking to them directly." The novel has also been praised for its excellent portrayal of "misfits" as they struggle to find their place in a turbulent high school world; this is a premise that many young adult and adult readers have greeted with empathy and understanding.
In 2012, the film adaptation of The Perks of Being a Wallflower was released, with actors Emma Watson, Ezra Miller, and Logan Lerman in starring roles. Chbosky only agreed to sell the rights to his story if he would also be able to write and direct the movie, which he did. When asked about this agreement, Chbosky told a reporter that he had written the book with a film adaptation in mind, but only if he would be a part of it. The film was met with immense critical success.