Charlie is writing letters to someone he doesn't know. These letters aren't addressed to us, so we feel a little strange reading them. But we have no choice. The whole book is made up of just that—letters from Charlie.
It seems that Charlie is trying to cope with the suicide of his friend, Michael.
(Grammar alert: We wouldn't normally put a comma after the word "friend," because that would mean Charlie only has one friend, Michael. But you know, we're pretty sure Charlie really did only have that one friend.)
After a school announcement informs Charlie that Michael has died, Charlie's older brother picks him up early from school and takes him to McDonald's.
The school guidance counselor helps students affected by the suicide, but it's not super successful with our boy. Charlie starts screaming at the guidance counselor and crying.
Charlie attends Michael's funeral.
In the last part of his first letter, Charlie introduces us to his family. Check out the "Characters" page to get the dish on them.
The letter concludes as Charlie tells us (well, he's not talking to us, but we're reading it anyway) that he starts high school tomorrow—and that he's terrified.