"Do you always think this much, Charlie?" "Is that bad?" I just wanted someone to tell me the truth. "Not necessarily. It's just that sometimes people use thought to not participate in life." "Is that bad?" "Yes." – Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being a WallflowerThe protagonist of Stephen Chbosky’s coming of age novel is a fifteen-and-a-half-year-old boy who may or may not be called Charlie. Like most fifteen-and-a-half-year-old boys Charlie has problems. They’re not insurmountable, they’re the kind of problems most fifteen-and-a-half-year-old boys face but in Charlie’s case all his problems boil down to one simple truth: he lets life do what it pretty much wants to him. This might make you think that Charlie is more of a doormat than a wallflower but he really isn’t. He’s a nice lad, clever, from a not-too-terribly-dysfunctional family whose only real weakness apart from wanting to please people is a tendency to cry more than certainly I remember doing when I was fifteen-and-a-half. All in all life doesn’t want to do anything really that awful or out-of-the-ordinary with Charlie. At least not during the course of the year that the book covers. In fact things start off quite well for him when he starts his freshman year at high school: he makes friends with Nothing and Nothing’s sister.You need to watch what you say at school. One slip of the tongue is all it takes:[T]here is a guy in shop class named “Nothing.” I’m not kidding. His name is “Nothing.” And he is hilarious. “Nothing” got his name when kids used to tease him in middle school. I think he’s a senior now. The kids started calling him Patty when his real name is Patrick. And “Nothing” told these kids, “Listen, you either call me Patrick, or you call me nothing.”So, the kids started calling him “Nothing.” And the name just stuck.Anyway, while watching a football match “Nothing” says to Charlie:“Hey, you’re in my shop class!” He’s a very friendly person.“I’m Charlie.” I said, not too shy.“And I’m Patrick. And this is Sam.” He pointed to a very pretty girl next to him. And she waved to me.“Hey, Charlie.” Sam had a very nice smile.When I think about some of the friendships I’ve had most of them have started off as innocuously as that. In fact there have been some where I can’t actually remember being introduced to the person; they simply slipped into my life and the next thing I knew we were inseparable. And that’s pretty much what happens here. Suddenly, seamlessly, Charlie is absorbed into the lives of these two seniors and their friends. This first meeting happened on 6 October 1991.