Charlie was bullied and largely friendless in middle school for being a shy bookworm, the same which he vows not to happen as he enters his freshman year in high school, although he will have to navigate those hallways on his own, as who was his only true friend, Michael, committed suicide just before the summer. Charlie's year does not start well as the only person whom he seems to connect with is his Advanced English teacher, Mr. Anderson, who can see that Charlie is the one person in the class who truly does enjoy literature for literature's sake and not just as a means to a good grade. However, Charlie is eventually befriended by some seniors, step-brother and sister Patrick and Sam, and their small group of friends, Mary Elizabeth, Alice and Bob who all consider themselves misfits. Even with this accepting group, Charlie admits he still doesn't know how to act around people, a misstep which could threaten those friendships. If a misstep is to occur, it probably would concern his growing attraction for Sam, who is dating a college student named Craig. All Charlie does know is that his blackouts, letters he writes to his "friend", and specific flashbacks - his conscious and subconscious coping mechanisms - have lessened the more he has spent time with these friends. But he may not be able to escape fully his past, specifically issues about who he considered the person he loved most in the world before meeting Sam, namely his now deceased Aunt Helen.