This is the most exciting and heartbreaking book I have read in a long time. I can see why it is a classic.
This book is about a man, Charlie Gordon, in his 30's who has an IQ of 68 and a strong desire to learn to read and write. Through a class for retarded adults at a local college, he finds out that a study is going on to test an operation that is supposed to increase a person's IQ. The rest of the story is about the operation, study, and Charlie's participation in them. The format of the book is that of a journal through which, in Charlie's words, we learn of his depressing childhood and his reactions as he does indeed become smarter and can finally understand things about his life that were beyond him until the operation. It is a very uplifting and emotional story that is, even after all these years, (since 1956) still original and haunting. I recommend this book to everyone!
This is a sad, moving book about Charlie Gordon. He begins the book as a kind and sweet retarded man who wants to learn, so he allows himself to be experimented upon. The book is a compilation of his progress reports, and theough them we see him gain inteliigence, slowly at first, but then ever increasingly until he is a genius.
While his intelligence grows, his emotional status does not, and the kind harmless man dissappears and is replaced by an arrogant angry man who finally understands all the bad that has been done to him by those who were suppsoed to care for him and love him.
They say ignorance is bliss, and apparently this book is saying the same thing. It just made me sad. Sad that, once attained, his new found intelligence could not make him happy, and sad that people on the whole prefer him stupid so they can make him the butt of their mocking. Sad of all, I see today's society no different in their treatment of those thought to be inferior.
A friend in NC had told me about this book and so I was inclined to read it. It's a little slow in some part but as a reader you get a real sense of connection with Charlie, the main character. I laughed, cried, and developed a new understanding of empathy.
As a rule, if a book is on "required reading lists" I won't like it. This book is very much the exception to this rule. I read Flowers for Algernon the first time 35+ years ago when a Jr. high teacher suggested it. I'm sure I "got it" to some degree then but rereading it now I have to say it is one of the most poignant books on the human condition I have ever read.
If you have never read it do so, if it has been several years it is time for a reread.
i cried. maybe that makes me a wimp, but it was touching and beautiful. it made me wonder...what if you were given just a while to experience everything you ever wanted, to be "normal" to "fit in", and then found out it couldn't last. it's almost like cinderella, only much much more real.
Flowers for Algernon is written as personal journal entries, starting before the experiment and leading the reader through it and what happens afterwards.
The journal technique is quite effective in bringing the reader into the story and conveying Charlie's intelligence level, using spelling and grammar as superficial clues and the sophistication of Charlie's observations as a deeper clue to his current intelligence level. Over the course of the book, the writing slowly becomes more sophisticated, in tune with the underlying thoughts. I liked the balance between first-person immediacy and thoughtful retrospective that the format of a journal entry at the end of each day or two provides.
While this is clearly speculative fiction, the point of Flowers for Algernon isn't the technology that lets Charlie become more intelligent but rather how people react to him, both before and afterwards, as his perceptions of the world change. This is, in part, a sharp rebuke of the way that the mentally retarded are treated, but there are also interesting explorations of identity, friendship, and the results of revisiting one's past. There are several wonderfully memorable characters, particularly the free-living artist living next door.
Parts of this book are a bit painful to read, particularly Charlie's attempts to come to terms with his sex life, and the pacing does suffer from the expansion from a short story in a few places. The story also isn't easy; human cruelty and failings are sharply portrayed. But this is a classic of science fiction for well-deserved reasons, even though there isn't much here in the way of science. The reader's growing ability to understand Charlie and Charlie's attempts to understand himself touch on the exploration of alienness and human reactions to it that underpin so many great science fiction stories. Highly recommended.
Flowers for Algernon explains the amazing story of Charlie Gordon. Born with an unusally low IQ he has been choosen for a new surgery to hopefully imporve his intelligence. The same procedure which has been proved sucessful on a lab mouse, Algernon. Charlie is tired of spending hours wondering why his co-workers and the people around him make fun of him and laugh. Algernon and Charlie become close friends and the surgery looks bright for Charlie, until Algernon suddenly starts to forget the new things he has learned...
A story that will break your heart and show you just how cruel the world can really be. It will open your eyes and change the way you think. Inspiration on every page. A MUST read.
A story of a human experiment -- tampering with human intelligence and a love triangle between two people. This story is utterly fascinating if you know the story behind the story. Flowers of Algernon was originally a short story that was translated into English. The character "Charlie" undergoes several operations upon his brain with some rather unexpected results that will make you laugh and cry.
I enjoyed the book. When I was in grade school we read it. However, as a child I did not fully absorb the context of the book. I figured now that I was older I'd give it another try. I'd definitely recommend it.
Really an excellent story. It makes you so much more understanding and sensitive to those with a person suffering from mental retardation. I felt true compassion for the protagonist. Will make you think about how truely blessed for what we have. Highly recommended reading for anyone.
An exceptional novel about an exceptional man who realizes that no matter what IQ he is at, God-given or artificially, the most exceptional part of living is the relationships that we make. Well-written sci-fi that works for any decade.
There is no more moving book. No one should live a life without reading it. I read it for the first time when I was a teenager. I am now in my fifties and just read it with my son. It is just as good and has made a lasting impact on my life.
I haven't read this book since high school, a long time ago. it was for my 14 yr.old son for summer reading. he enjoyed, but found the ending was very sad. this is a book for a mature teen only. my 12yr. wouldn't finish it when he was told the ending.
FLOWERS FOR ALGERNON made its first appearance in print as a short story which was rapidly and widely anthologized, and translated internationally. It received further acclaim as a memorable television drama, and was rapidly purchased for film/motion picture production. Then, enlarged and richly peopled, Daniel Keyes' haunting story became an award-winning novel - recipient of the Nebula Award for the Best Novel of the Year by the Science Fiction Writers of America.
This fascinating tale of a daring human experiment has been described as "a love triangle between two people," "a suspenseful, gripping story," and "a brilliant fantasy." It is all these things. It is one of the most strikingly original and engrossing novels of our time! Now, full-bodied and richly-peopled, FLOWERS FOR ALGERNON is the daring novel of a startling human experiment!
I first read Flowers when I was in 9th grade, and I am so glad that the school chose this title for us. It is very enlightening, and makes you think about things you maybe wouldn't normally. It delves into the mind of Charlie, a retarded man who is given the chance to try a miracle operation that would restore his intelligence from that of a very high end retarded man to a normal man. It is startling to imagine what you would do if you were in the shoes of any one of a myriad of characters fleshed out in this story. It is a must read for anyone seeking understanding of their fellow man.
Thoroughly enjoyed it. Wonderfully written. Really explores the different sides of how we all are treated and treat others who are maybe not as quick, but who are aware and who do live fulfilling lives.
A heartwrenching journal of the life of a retarded boy who became part of an experiment: a surgery which would allow him to learn and become extremely intelligent. They were convinced that it would work, because it had worked on the mouse, Algernon. This was one of those books I just could not lay down! I highly recommend it!!!
I sat down with this book one night before bed, expecting to read a few chapters before calling it a night. As others have mentioned, it is a little difficult to read at first due to Charlie's poor grammar, but I could not put it down! I ended up reading the entire book in one sitting.
This was a fantastic story and I am so glad I've finally had the opportunity to read it. I think this is one of those books that sticks with you and it has easily become one of my favorites!
Wow! How can a book be so uplifting and so sad at the same time? This story allows the reader to think and feel on many levels. There are layers of pure and simple honesty, deception, fear, anger (so much anger)and friendship that all make you question human nature. What makes us belong or not belong? What makes us feel the need (or the right) to treat some people the way we do? A must read for all of the young ones in your life.
I still seem to be going through a phase of reading the books some of my favorite films were based upon. It's always interesting to me to see what the filmmakers changed in order to tell their own versions of the story.
I've watched two different film adaptations of this book: 1968's Charly, starring Cliff Robertson (who won an Academy Award for his performance in the title role), and 2000's Flowers for Algernon, starring Matthew Modine.
Both films opted to make a kinder, gentler version of Daniel Keyes' book.
The book is written as a series of progress reports, and they provide a vivid picture of Charlie's mental and emotional intelligence. The sections in which Charlie was mentally challenged were literally painful for me to read because my eyes simply did not want to translate so many misspelled words. This reaction did surprise me, and I was certainly glad when Charlie's reports began to improve post-surgery.
I think the thing that surprised me the most in a comparison between the book and the movies was Charlie's anger. Post-surgery, Charlie realizes that all his good friends at the bakery, all those guys he had so many laughs with, were really making fun of him all along. Charlie's past has also been hiding some extremely painful episodes. And as his intelligence increases to genius level, he becomes very impatient with everyone around him because they can't keep up. Obviously, the filmmakers decided that much of this (understandable) anger could not be shown because it could jeopardize audience sympathy for the character.
Since the book is written as a series of progress reports, the tone often seems very dispassionate, as if I were being kept at a distance. I'm not sure if I care for this or not. What I do know is that I'm glad I read Daniel Keyes' book. I feel as if I really know Charlie Gordon now, and even though I may have a sentimental preference for the movies, I like him just as much now as I did before. Daniel Keyes created a marvelous character study in which he proves that emotional intelligence is every bit as important as mental intelligence.
From the back: Flowers for Algernon made its first appearance as a short story which was rapidly and widely anthologized, and translated internationally. It received further acclaim asa memorable television drama, and as a motion picture production. Now, full-bodied and richly-peopled, Flowers for Algernon is the daring novel of a startling human experiment!
From the back of the book
Flowers for Algernon made it firts appearance as a short story which
as rapidly and widely anthologized, and translated international.
This fascinating tale of a daring human experiment has been described as " a love triangle between two people," a suspenseful, gripping story, " and a brilliant fanstasy." It is all these things. It is one of the most strikingly original and engrossing novels of our time!