Flowers for Algernon Paperback – 1 May 2005
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A tale that is convincing, suspenseful and touching.--The New York Times
An ingeniously touching story . . . Moving . . . Intensely real.--The Baltimore Sun
From the Back Cover
As the treatment takes effect, Charlie's intelligence expands until it surpasses that of the doctors who engineered his metamorphosis. The experiment appears to be a scientific breakthrough of paramount importance, until Algernon suddenly deteriorates. Will the same happen to Charlie?
WINNER OF THE HUGO AWARD AND THE NEBULA AWARD
The classic novel that inspired the Academy Award-winning movie Charly
Daniel Keyes, the author of eight books, was born in Brooklyn, New York, and received his B.A. and M.A. degrees from Brooklyn College. Professor emeritus at Ohio University, he lives in Boca Raton, Florida.
- Language : English
- Paperback : 311 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0156030306
- ISBN-13 : 978-0156030304
- Reading age : 14 years and up
- Best Sellers Rank: 9,240 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
In case you don’t know what the book is about, here is a brief synopsis. Charlie was a mentally challenged young man who wanted nothing more than to be smarter than he was. He volunteered for an experimental surgery that was supposed to increase his intelligence. The surgery had previously only been done on mice, and Algernon the mouse was the result of an earlier operation. When Charlie saw how Algernon navigated a maze with ease, he was convinced that the operation would be successful.
Charlie’s surgery was also a success, but his ever increasing intelligence caused difficulties in his relationships. His “friends” at work found out very quickly that he was no longer a target for their teasing, to which he had always been oblivious. They were so uncomfortable that they complained to the owner of the bakery he had been working at for years. He was let go.
He tried having relationships with women, but his emotional intelligence had not progressed on the scale of his intellect. The teacher who had taught him for years ultimately ended their budding relationship, because he was so far ahead of her intellectually, she could no longer keep up.
He reached a point at which he understood that his improvement was only temporary. He watched Algernon regress until all his progress was gone. Then Charlie himself began that backward slide.
I was heartbroken to see his realization that the people he thought were his “friends” were being cruel to him all along. Increased awareness and understanding brought him nothing but pain. I was almost thankful at the end when he reached a point of being somewhat stable, even though he may not have been even as intelligent as he was when he started.
I asked myself if he would have truly consented to the surgery if he had known what would happen to him afterwards. Did he actually have capacity to consent?
I don’t know if I was supposed to wish that increasing intelligence was a possibility for people with mental challenges, but I finished the book with a feeling of discomfort that his life was seen on the same level as that of a mouse in the eyes of the people performing the experiment.
It was ultimately a book that raised a lot of questions in my head and heart. There aren’t many answers to be found–just more questions.
As someone who's struggled with mental illness, confusing limitations, and my place in the world, as well as someone who later got me/cfs and lost even more independence, I relate so much to this book... Even though the main character is developmentally disabled, there's so much insight in this book.
I'll tell you, the end will seem sad at first, but has with it its own wisdom and inspiration. Reminding us like all things in this world, bittersweet is still sweet.
I hate sad endings to an extreme, but i don't regret reading this book.
Ironically, in Charlie's lostness, he found the wisdom he searched for all along & the journey is well worth the read!
A retarded man is given an operation to increase his intelligence. Algernon, a mouse, is given the same operation.
What makes the tale particularly poignant is the quotation at the beginning in which it is noted that one can be blinded either by going from darkness to light or from light to darkness--and others should not laugh at the traveller regardless of direction.
On one level the tale is simple. On another, it addresses emotional v intellectual growth, the complexity of families, the issue of how those who appear different are treated, and the question of what is ultimately important.
This is a classic, "must read" book for everyone.
One caveat is that it should not be enjoyed as an audio book alone, because much of the protagonist's development is given by the spelling and phrasing of his journal entries. Audio book plus print (as I read it this time) is wonderful.
A wonderful book that everyone should know