When the novel opens Charlie is dealing with the suicide of his middle school friend Michael the year before and the death of his favourite aunt Helen, during his early childhood. Charlie befriends Patrick, an openly gay teen from his shop class, and his step sister Sam. Both are older, outsiders – but they are the cool kind of outsiders. They introduce Charlie to parties, drugs and The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
The novel tackles some tough issues through Charlie’s eyes including suicide, domestic violence, sexual abuse, rape, teen pregnancy, abortion, drug use, homosexuality, death of a family member, mental health.
Stephen Chbosky also wrote and directed the feature film adaptation that was released in 2012 and starred Logan Lerman, Emma Watson and Ezra Miller.