The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky.
I haven't seen the movie yet, but I wanted to review the book without being influenced by the film.
I don't know why I didn't read this when it was first released in 1999, though it may have had something to do with the title, which to me implies a fluffy romance novel. And of course, that's the opposite of what this story is.
Well, it's not fluffy, anyway. It is a love story, though not a traditional one.
Charlie describes starting high school with no friends. Although his sister attends the school, she's a senior, and thus is in a completely different orbit. Something of a loner and with a tendency towards depression, he is blessed with an English teacher who recognizes that the boy is unusual, and begins to assign him novels that aren't in the curriculum (To Kill a Mockingbird, The Catcher in the Rye) and asks him to write about them.
He also meets siblings Patrick and Sam, both seniors, with whom he becomes close. He has a crush on Sam, which she doesn't encourage, but doesn't actively discourage either. Through them, he experiences teen stuff like football games and dances. And parties, as well as the alcohol and drugs that inevitably accompany them.
Extremely introspective, Charlie can be seen as a latter-day Holden Caulfield, although he's a much more sympathetic character and less of a rebel.
This is such an engrossing and affecting story! I'm looking forward to the film, and hoping it doesn't disappoint.
FTC Full Disclosure: I borrowed this book from my local library.