Saturday, June 9, 2007

BOOK: Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

So many reasons to read this book: booklogged sent it to me, it is on the banned book reading list, katrina just read it, and I picked it for the Summer Reading Challenge Round 2. And it was a great read. I heard it was a tearjerker, and I usually cry quite easily in books so I was surprised that nary a tear fell. Still an excellent read and well worth the story.

Charley is a mentally retarded aldult chosen for experimental surgery to make him a genius. Previously only experimented on animals, Algernon the mouse was the most successful trial. Against the ethics of science today, the surgery is done on Charley without seeing how Algernon ends up, or what the long term effects of the operation are. Charley becomes smarter, intellectually very quickly and the book is about how he has to grow emotionally as well. As he deals with his past life, the reader is left to wonder how much better off he was after the surgery. Algernon begins to fail and Charley is left to see his future.

So many issues are brought up I can see why this is a high school novel. I read it very quickly and would recommend it. As Charley begins to see his life with his increased intelligence, your heart just breaks for him. Banned, I imagine, due to Charley's increased sexual awareness and the references to his affairs.

5 comments:

kookiejar said...

This one just breaks my heart every time I read it.

E said...

I've never read it - only excerpts. But my colleague has taught to 6th graders and I object. (I adore her, but feel she uses classics with the wrong age groups and needs to use different classics with the younger crowd.) I think I might steal a copy from the library or bookroom and read over the summer. Perhaps I should create my own Summer Reading Challenge! Famous

Kimmie said...

I read this years ago and loved it. I want to get myself a copy but the last time I checked my local B&N they were out.

Yorick said...

I've read both the short story version and the novel that it was turned into. I'm probably alone in this, but I believe the story is better. It seemed to me that some of the extra details weren't helpful, only titillating. (As a marketing plan, adding the sex references worked, and I wonder if the novel hasn't gotten more attention because it managed to get banned/challenged by some parents or schools.
Also, as an adult now (as opposed to a teen ager as I was at the time), I truly question whether sexual awakening is related to intelligence in any way like suggested in the book for plot's sake.

John Mutford said...

Have you seen the 60s movie? It was from 1968 and was quite dreadful even though the guy playing Charley was nominated for an Oscar I believe. It was called "Charly". The book is much better.