The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Publication and reception

The Perks of Being a Wallflower was first published on February 1, 1999[17] by Pocket Books through its MTV Books imprint.[18] It became the subsidiary's best-selling book with 100,000 copies in print as of 2000,[18] and was included on school reading lists and gathered a cult following.[19] In spite of it, The Perks of Being a Wallflower has appeared six times on the American Library Association's list of 10 most-frequently-challenged books.[11][20] Usually, there are request to remove it from high school public libraries because it deals with drugs use among teenagers, homosexuality, suicide, and has sexually explicit scenes and "offensive language."[13][20][21] Since Chbosky "didn't write it to be a controversial book," he was surprised by the bans.[11]

Critical response was mixed; Publishers Weekly called the novel "trite", dealing with "standard teenage issues" in which "Chbosky infuses a droning insistence on Charlie's supersensitive disposition."[22] Although Kirkus Review said it had "the right combination of realism and uplift", the reviewer criticized Chbosky's "rip-off" of J. D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye.[23] Although other reviewers made similar comparisons, Chbosky said he "was not trying to mimic [Salinger's] style as a writer";[1] he saw "how readers could compare Charlie to Salinger's Holden Caulfield", but "they are very different people with unique problems and perspectives".[1]

Francisca Goldsmith of the School Library Journal said the novel "cleverly" makes the readers the recipients of Charlie's letters, and it "will engage teen readers for years to come."[24] Common Sense Media's Kate Pavao praised its relevant themes for teenagers: "Readers will find themselves quickly feeling sorry for the protagonist and worrying about him throughout his transformative journey."[17] In an Amazon.com review, Brangien Davies wrote: "What is most notable about this funny, touching, memorable first novel from Stephen Chbosky is the resounding accuracy with which the author captures the voice of a boy teetering on the brink of adulthood."[24] For The A.V. Club, Marah Eakin wrote that although for an adult "Perks suffers from an overabundance of pure, raw angst ... unlike some more arrested development-friendly YA fare like Harry Potter, Perks speaks to a more specific age range and does it well."[25]

With the announcement of a film adaptation the novel received more attention; it sales increased from 88,847 copies in 2011 to 425,933 in 2012,[26] and it reached the New York Times bestseller lists.[27] It entered the Children's Paperpack Books category on the June 23, 2012 list,[28] and had 1.5 million copies in print in November 2012.[27] As of May 11, 2014 it appeared on The New York Times top 10 list for the 71st non-consecutive week,[29] and was in the top 15 on the November 23 list.[30] The novel has been published in 16 countries in 13 languages.[31]


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