Flowers for Algernon

Flowers for Algernon

The story of a mentally disabled man whose experimental quest for intelligence mirrors that of Algernon, an extraordinary lab mouse. In diary entries, Charlie tells how a brain operation increases his IQ and changes his life. As the experimental procedure takes effect, Charlie's intelligence expands until it surpasses that of the doctors who engineered his metamorphosis. T...

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Title:Flowers for Algernon
Author:Daniel Keyes
Rating:
Edition Language:English

Flowers for Algernon Reviews

  • Amy

    I first read this book in 8th grade, in my english class. I remembered enjoying it, being fascinated in how the author painted the picture that I really was reading Charlie's journal by use of spelling, grammar and punctuation related to the level Charlie was at when writing the entries. What I didn't know at the time was the people who created the text book I used felt it was okay to chop whole chapters out of the middle of the book. They felt pulling out whole sections was okay in the name of

    I first read this book in 8th grade, in my english class. I remembered enjoying it, being fascinated in how the author painted the picture that I really was reading Charlie's journal by use of spelling, grammar and punctuation related to the level Charlie was at when writing the entries. What I didn't know at the time was the people who created the text book I used felt it was okay to chop whole chapters out of the middle of the book. They felt pulling out whole sections was okay in the name of protecting children from "bad" concepts like sex, alcohol, and violence. They didn't consider that perhaps leaving the story intact and waiting for the children to mature before handing them this story was a better route.

    I discovered this injustice when I was in a used bookstore, and remembered this story I read in class I enjoyed, so I dug up a copy and bought it. When I got home, I jumped right in and started to reread it, only to get a shock in the middle of the book where suddenly there were whole chapters about this neighbor Charlie gets involved with that I didn't remember. When I reread the book more recently, there were more things that I realized would have been chopped out of a version intended for 8th grade students to read, and I just hadn't noticed as much the first time reading the complete copy because they were tucked in with the more mundane things towards the beginning of Charlies developments.

    All ranting aside, I find this book to be a fascinating look at human nature, personality and development. It's well written, and does a good job placing you into Charlie's head as he goes up and down through this experiment. If you read it in school like I first did, do yourself a favor and buy or borrow a complete copy of the book to read. The lessons learned by all characters in the book certainly give you lots of think about your own behavior and that of others.

    EDIT: There have been a few comments pointing out that the story was a short story first, likely the version I read in my school textbook, that was later expanded into the novel. I only wanted to add this note to my review, as it seems some people comment without reading the other comments left, so I'm seeing both comments informing me of this fact and comments of outrage that the book was censored.

  • Wil Wheaton

    Heartbreaking and beautiful. Required reading, as far as I am concerned.

  • Emily May

    I am finding it hard to put into words the vast range of emotions I experienced whilst reading this little tale of hope, perseverance, truth and humanity. When it comes to science fiction, I would hesitate before declaring myself a fan, simply because there's only a certain amount of aliens, spaceships and intergalactic battles I can take before I start to become distracted. A good action scene on a distant planet only takes my enjoyment so far and the books I have enjoyed most from this genre t

    I am finding it hard to put into words the vast range of emotions I experienced whilst reading this little tale of hope, perseverance, truth and humanity. When it comes to science fiction, I would hesitate before declaring myself a fan, simply because there's only a certain amount of aliens, spaceships and intergalactic battles I can take before I start to become distracted. A good action scene on a distant planet only takes my enjoyment so far and the books I have enjoyed most from this genre tend to be the softer, more humanity-focused stories. I'm a huge fan of science fiction that doesn't seem too far away, something that I could imagine lingering just around the corner after a few more scientific experiments - and that's how I feel about

    , I can imagine it as a possibility and that makes it all the more meaningful for me.

    This story is about Charlie Gordon who with an IQ of 68 can only hope to sweep the floors at the bakery... well, that is until he is invited to participate in an experiment previously only tested on animals. The experiment is an operation that will gradually make him a genius and allow him to become the person he's always longed to be. But, as with Adam and Eve in the genesis story we all know, intelligence comes with a price. Charlie learns that the people he's known for years are not what he'd always thought, where he once associated laughter with friendship, he soon learns that it is mockery.

    once said that intelligence is almost entirely about the strength of your memory - and Charlie Gordon finds that out the hard way. Memories that had been forgotten come flooding back, bringing pain with them.

    looks at so many different things: mental disabilities, human nature, intelligence and love. It made me feel sad, angry, frustrated and hopeful, it made me shake my head at people's behaviour and it made me incredibly thankful for so many things - I know how cliche that sounds but it's true.

    Even though Charlie's intelligence grows to beyond that of a normal human, he is emotionally still very much a child and has to learn the things other people learned long ago. He doesn't understand what is happening when his body becomes sexually responsive to a woman and he often doesn't understand why people say one thing but mean something completely different. The abuse he has endured because of his disabilities runs back through the years to his first public school and even his own mother. This is a very sad story that made me think about so many things and the ending just about broke my heart.

  • Adina

    I read this 2 years ago, before I started writing more detailed reviews. I am not planning to modify my thoughts from back then but I want to add my father's thoughts. I gifted this book to him last Christmas and he finally got to read it. He was as deeply moved by this magnificent heart wrenching novel as I was and he felt the need to send me a message when he finished to tell how impressed he was. It was the first time he sent me an emotional message about a book so with his permission, I will

    I read this 2 years ago, before I started writing more detailed reviews. I am not planning to modify my thoughts from back then but I want to add my father's thoughts. I gifted this book to him last Christmas and he finally got to read it. He was as deeply moved by this magnificent heart wrenching novel as I was and he felt the need to send me a message when he finished to tell how impressed he was. It was the first time he sent me an emotional message about a book so with his permission, I will paste here most of his words:

    There is more but that is a private daddy-daughter talk. I love sharing my love of books with my dad and I am emotional each time he loves one of the books i recommend.

    My original review:

    This book is extraordinary, one of my favorites. It is a fast read but is is very powerful and heartbreaking. I read it in the plane and I felt a little embarrassed when I started to weep at the end of the book. Even though I was expecting the ending the way it is written still broke my heart.

    I loved the way the book is written, as journal entries of an adult retard which is the subject of an experiment that makes him smart (a lot smarter). The writing at first is very childish but as the narrator changes so does the writing. Very clever.

    One of the things that I found to be most powerful was the way the narrator changed his view of others after becoming more intelligent and the way others changed their attitude towards him.

    I believe this should be read by everybody. Highly recommended.

  • Dan Schwent

    When Charlie Gordon, a mentally disabled man, undergoes an experiment to increase his intelligence, his life changes in ways he never imagined. But will the intelligence increase be permanent.

    I first became aware of Flowers for Algernon when it was mentioned in an episode of Newsradio. I forgot about it until that episode of The Simpsons inspired by it, when it was discovered Homer had a crayon lodged in his brain. I'd mostly forgotten about it again until it popped up for ninety-nine cents in o

    When Charlie Gordon, a mentally disabled man, undergoes an experiment to increase his intelligence, his life changes in ways he never imagined. But will the intelligence increase be permanent.

    I first became aware of Flowers for Algernon when it was mentioned in an episode of Newsradio. I forgot about it until that episode of The Simpsons inspired by it, when it was discovered Homer had a crayon lodged in his brain. I'd mostly forgotten about it again until it popped up for ninety-nine cents in one of my BookGorilla emails.

    Flowers for Algernon is one of those stories I wish I would have read years earlier. It's simply marvelous. It's about the nature of intelligence and how intelligence can be divisive. It's a very emotional book.

    Personally, this was a very powerful book for me. For a lot of my time in school, I was way ahead of the curve and didn't really click with other kids. As Charlie's intelligence grew, eventually surpassing even the scientists that experimented on him, his feelings of isolation increased and I felt a lot of kinship toward Charlie. His difficulties fitting in were the cherry on top of the loneliness sundae.

    As Charlie's intelligence grew and he comprehended things from his past, it was hard not to feel sorry for him. Once he starts sliding backward, the book keeps getting more and more sad. Keyes doesn't mind kicking you in the emotional junk, that's for sure.

    I love the way the book is written in periodic progress reports from Charlie. It's perfect vehicle to show his increase in intelligence and eventual decline. There were man-tears shed over the course of the book. I had to set the book down a few times to keep from sobbing in my cube.

    Flowers for Algernon is one of those rare science fiction novels that transcends the genre. Five out of five stars.

  • Melissa β™₯ Dog/Wolf Lover β™₯ Martin

    Omg!!!!! I can't even!!

    Mel πŸ–€πŸΎπŸΊ

  • Pouting Always

    Wow I'm so glad I finally read it. I had only read passages of it before but it was totally with sitting and reading the whole thing through. I don't even know what to say I can't stop crying because of how things are for Charlie and I guess I just wish that they way he was treated wasnt so close to reality. Also it's kind of painful to have to question things like intimacy vs intelligence and self actualization which are brought up so poignantly in the book. I don't even know if anything I'm sa

    Wow I'm so glad I finally read it. I had only read passages of it before but it was totally with sitting and reading the whole thing through. I don't even know what to say I can't stop crying because of how things are for Charlie and I guess I just wish that they way he was treated wasnt so close to reality. Also it's kind of painful to have to question things like intimacy vs intelligence and self actualization which are brought up so poignantly in the book. I don't even know if anything I'm saying is making any sense but the book really got to me and now I need to be alone to cry and consolidate myself with it and the new ideas it has made me consider.

  • Dana Ilie

    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, particula

    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.

    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.

    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.

  • Raeleen Lemay

    what a great read! I sort of feel like it was too simple, but still an enjoyable enough book.

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