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It's 1991 and academically precocious, socially awkward Charlie is a wallflower, always watching from the sidelines, until a pair of charismatic seniors takes him under their wing. Beautiful, free spirited Sam and her fearless stepbrother, Patrick, shepherd Charlie through new friendships, first love, burgeoning sexuality, bacchanalian parties, midnight screenings of The Rocky Horror Picture Show and the quest for the perfect song. At the same time, his English teacher, Mr. Anderson introduces him to the world of literature, sparking his dreams of becoming a writer. But even as Charlie thrives in his new, more grown-up world, the pain of his past, which includes his best friend's recent suicide and the accidental death of a beloved aunt, lurks just below the surface. As his older friends plan to leave home for college, Charlie's precarious equilibrium begins to crumble, and at the root of his sadness is a shocking revelation.