Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

People often started their reviews by saying this book so-and-so made them cry. That doesn’t mean anything to me. I don’t cry for a book.

Little did I know that I would begin my review now by saying this book made me cry! And not just a tear or two, but more like weeping for 5 minutes. At least TWO times! The last time I cried because of a book was probably The Time Traveler’s Wife, which I read in 2004.

Charlie was born retarded. He lives his entire life with not much more than broken memories and haziness. But Charlie wants to be smart. He knows he’s lacking something and that he wants that something so he can be like everybody else. One day an opportunity arrives. A research facility needs a human guinea pig. If the experiment is successful, Charlie would become.. normal, though of course, there’s a chance that it might fail. Charlie doesn’t care. He’s going to do anything to be smarter.

I have a little confession to make. For me, it’s very important to be smart. As a kid I was obsessed with IQ tests. I started doing them since I was three. I knew I wasn’t a genius, but my IQ was high enough to be, say, the highest in class, and in general, to get away with a lot of things. Some people might be the funny one, the pretty one, the talkative one, the kind one. But me, I need to be the smart one. Most of the time this thought lays deep at my subconscious mind, but at certain times when I feel my brain fails me big time, I could get pretty depressed, and the worms are out in the open. What if I’m just not that smart? What would I be? WHAT IF? –I would heap on my despair, sink in my misery.

I could relate with Charlie in many ways. I always feel the need to be smart. I understand how the little child in us always needs to get our parents’ approval. Look at me Ma! I am smart! I am somebody!

Boy, did I cry!

The book is told in a series of Charlie’s personal journal, so we could see how he progresses and gets smarter, then later finds out how things were never what he thought they were when he lived in his blurry state.

You know how sometimes even a good book slows its pace at some parts? It never happened with this book. The pace was good from beginning til end. Every page was a joy to read. Not only that, it’s packed with emotional punch. One thing for sure, I would never see a “slow” person the same way ever again.

I can’t recommend this book highly enough. To anybody! I love you Daniel Keyes! Thank you for your contribution to this world! (sorry, that just gushed out of me) I can’t believe my first two books of the year were so 5 stars! I have a good feeling for this year.Daniel Keyes


1966, 216 pp

First line
Dr Strauss says I shoud rite down what I think and remembir and evrey thing that happins to me from now on.

Awards
1966 Nebula Award for Best Novel

Quotes

“.. Miss Kinnian says dont worry spelling is not suppose to make sence.” ~ p24

“Now I understand one of the important reasons for going to college and getting an education is to learn that the things you’ve believed in all your life aren’t true, and that nothing is what it appears to be.” ~ p50

Challenges
Book Awards IV (book #2), Read the Book See the Movie (book #1)

Also reviewed by
Loved it! — Farm Lane Books Blog | Savidge Reads | Novel Insight | Reading Matters
Not quite. — Books for Breakfast

charlyCharly (1968)

I had reservation about watching the movie, because the book was just SO good. There’s no way the movie can even compare. But I saw Cliff Robertson won Oscar for Best Actor in 1969 for the film, so I gave it a chance.

Well, I was right. It’s not horrible, but it’s nothing compared to the book. In the movie we lose a lot of Charlie’s inner thoughts, which are the main point of the book. A lot of his external and internal conflicts were cut as well, leaving mainly his love interest.

I would give the movie a pass.

Rating: 6/10

Apart from my reading challenges, I read the book (and watch the movie) to participate on Carl’s Sci Fi Experience 2010 (run in the month of January and February). Are you participating? You still have time if you want to! :)

After Flowers for Algernon I definitely have a lot more confidence in trying the Sci-Fi genre. A few years ago I told the person who gave me the book that “I don’t read science fiction.” But when we discussed some books that we’ve read, I mentioned The Time Traveller’s Wife and Kindred. He quickly pointed out that I do read sci-fi. Sci-fi does not mean all outer-space and machines. I agree that we really shouldn’t pigeon-hole books into a certain genre, and avoid them as a result. Imagine what great books that we could be missing out! I do plan to read more of what is called sci-fi books in the future. Nebula and Hugo award winners would be a great start. At the moment I’m thinking Stranger in a Strange Land.

Can you think of any books that you are passionate about that fall into the sci-fi genre?

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