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The first (and so far only) novel by Stephen Chbosky. It was first published in 1999.The narrator, 16-year-old Charlie, is just starting high school as a freshman, having been held back a couple of years due to emotional trauma in his past, and subsequent hospitalization. The novel primarily concerns Charlie's adventures in the '91-'92 school year, and is written as an Epistolary Novel, a collection of letters Charlie is writing to a friend-of-a-friend who he was told would be a good listener. Charlie, who doesn't excel at much except reading, seems to be off to a bad start before two seniors, step-siblings Patrick and Sam, take him under their wing. And so begins Charlie's adventures into school, literature, dating, Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll, teen pregnancy, suicide, and theThe Rocky Horror Picture Show.The book was well-received and essentially the literary version of a Killer App for its publisher, the newly-launched MTV Books. It has drawn comparisons to The Catcher in the Rye, primarily for being a pull-no-punches look at high school and for having a First-Person Narrator. It also placed 6th on 2008's List Of Most Frequently Banned Books, for similar reasons.The Film of the Book was released in September 2012, written and directed by Chbosky himself. Logan Lerman, Emma Watson, and Ezra Miller play Charlie, Sam, and Patrick respectively. Also, Mae Whitman plays Mary Elizabeth, which is cool too.
Adaptation Distillation: The movie keeps the most important moments from the book but cuts or skims over events and scenes to keep it shorter like Charlie's smoking, his relationship with Mr. Anderson and cuts out the pregnancy and abortion subplot with his sister (however this plotline was later released as a deleted scene on the DVD/Bluray release).
Ambiguous Disorder: Charlie is just said to be "emotionally disturbed". It is revealed that he was sexually abused by his favorite aunt, and feels guilt for her death in a car accident as she was bringing him back his birthday present
Anachronism Stew: The movie really does a good job at keeping in its timeframe, however folks who actually did their senior year of high school from 1991-92 immediately notice Cracker's "Low" came out two years later, and a sign on the Fort Pitt Bridge (coming out of the tunnel) for Pittsburgh's Consol Center, which was built in 2008.
First Kiss: Sam to Charlie. She specifies that even though she has a boyfriend and sees Charlie strictly as a friend, she want his first kiss to be with someone who loves and cares about him. (see Rape As Back Story).
Five-Finger Discount: Alice is well known for stealing jeans from the shops repeatedly. Though the jeans she gave to Mary Elizabeth for Secret Santa were actually paid for.
Funny Background Event: Film only. After Shop class on the first day, when Charlie's on his way out, you can see Patrick in the guidance counsellor's office, presumably because of his actions in said Shop class.
Granola Girl: Mary Elizabeth is a classic example, being a punk artist vegan activist Buddhist.
One might argue that Sam has these tendencies as well.
Higher Understanding Through Drugs: The protagonist goes to a house party, and eats a cannabis brownie without knowing what's in it. Soon after, the otherwise quiet and reserved character is sitting in a lotus position babbling all sorts of stuff, some of it silly, some of it quite insightful. As a result of this, he gains a bunch of new friends.
Hipster: Sam, Patrick and their friends have hipster traits such as their taste in music and clothes they wear. Although considering their earnestness about their interests(rather than contemptuous irony) and the time frame (the 80s weren't that long ago), it might be a subversion.
I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Charlie wishes for everyone around him to be happy, but as a result disrgards his own happiness. Sam calls him out on this before she leaves for college, telling him he can't make everyone around him happy and he must care for himself too.
Jerk Jock: Brad has shades of this, and pretty much evolves into a full-fledged one when his dad catches him and Patrick and beats the crap out of him.
Keet: Patrick. Ezra Miller especially has fun with this during a few scenes in the film.
Fridge Brilliance: This story is set in Pittsburgh. The creator of Night of the Living Dead and one of the men who created zombie fiction, George A. Romero, both lived in Pittsburgh and shot both Night and its sequel there. This might explain Alice's adoration for zombies and the aforementioned zombie movie. And the casting of Tom Savini as the shop teacher in the film.
No Name Given: Charlie's sister never has a name mentioned out loud, nor do his parents or brother. And for that matter, there's hints that "Charlie" is a pen name adopted for reasons of anonymity.
Named by the Adaptation: It's made clear in the movie that Charlie is his given name. The sister is named Candace for the film too.
Relative Error: When Charlie first meets Patrick and Sam, he mistakenly thinks they're dating.
Romantic False Lead: Mary Elizabeth is this for Charlie, though she has a bigger role in the story and is more sympathetic than Romantic False Leads tend to be. Craig, however, is a typical example of the trope, as the character is used purely as a plot device.
Shout-Out: Besides the lists of books Mr. Anderson gives Charlie to read, there are also several literature/film references scattered throughout the book. Not to mention all of the songs discussed. The film keeps the majority of these references.
That said, Stephen Chbosky states in his movie commentary that there are meant to be no villains in the story—the idea being that all teenagers are suffering hardships, but some can't healthily express it.
Their First Time: Both versions are played straight: an unanticipated tryst is interrupted by something.
They Do: Charlie and Sam. At least, the movie suggests so. YMMV for the book.
Twenty Minutes into the Past: Published in 1999, takes place over the '91-92 school year. Which makes it twenty YEARS as of the film release, so averted.
Villainy-Free Villain: The Shop teacher, in the film at least. He only appears twice, yet his first appearance is to sit at the receiving end of Patrick's (unprovoked) mischief, which for some reason presents Patrick as sympathetic instead of him when he tries to discipline him. In his second appearance, he acts like more of a Jerkass towards his students and their work.
Wanton Cruelty to the Common Comma: When learning how to punctuate, Charlie scatters punctuation all over that day's letter. The next day he apologizes. (...It was funny at the time.)