The Perks of Being a Wallflower is based in Western Pennsylvania sometime in the 1990s. The novel begins with Charlie beginning high school and not having any friends. Charlie is very shy and ignorant. He's intelligent beyond his years, and a wallflower; shy and introspective. As the year starts to begin, the only ‘friend’ he meets is his AP English teacher, Bill. Once Bill explains to Charlie that he needs to ‘participate’ in life more, Charlie befriends step-siblings Sam and Patrick. Sam and Patrick then introduce Charlie to their group of friends, and in no time at all; Charlie is welcomed into the group like the others. Charlie runs into struggles that many kids face in their high school life: making friends, drugs and smoking, family troubles, the intensity of a crush, exploring sexualities, and relationships. Throughout his freshman year, Charlie experiences and gains new knowledge about the side of life he's never encountered before his introduction to Sam and Patrick. He realizes there is a fine line between selfish and selfless. Aside from maturing in all aspects, Charlie ultimately learns to live life for himself, not for others.