The connection between Charlie and the reader becomes so intimate, that the reader soon believes they are the ones to whom Charlie is writing. Charlie also makes it clear in his first letter that he does not want the recipient to know who he is, but alludes to the fact that they have a mutual acquaintance ("Dear friend, I am writing to you because she said you listen and understand, and didn't try to sleep with that person at that party" pg1). He urges the recipient not to try to discover who their mutual acquaintance is or who Charlie is, and states that he will also be changing the names of all of the people in his book to make himself as anonymous as possible.
The story is a classic bildungsroman, or a coming of age story. Charlie is easy to relate to for most youths for several reasons; he is experiencing grief from severe loss, starting his first year in high school, is struggling to find his place in the world, and he is very open about what he is dealing with his feelings. Charlie is somewhat of an outsider, or as the title suggests, a wallflower- a smart, quiet kid who starts out with no friends and winds up in a bit of a rough (however nice and accepting of him) crowd that introduces him to all of these new experiences. Along with all of the new situations brought on by school and friends. Charlie deals with issues at home, including witnessing his sister being the victim of domestic abuse, and experiencing the grief of his best friend Michael committing suicide. During the year covered by the book, Charlie is introduced to what