Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

by - Sunday, August 05, 2012

In this classic story that inspired the hit movie by the same name. Charlie Gordon, a mentally disabled adult who cleans floors and toilets, becomes a genius through an experimental operation.

From Wikipedia : 

The eponymous Algernon is a laboratory mouse who has undergone surgery to increase his intelligence by artificial means. The story is told by a series of progress reports written by Charlie Gordon, the first human test subject for the surgery, and it touches upon many different ethical and moral themes such as the treatment of the mentally disabled.

Although the book has often been challenged for removal from libraries in the US and Canada, sometimes successfully, it is regularly taught in schools around the world and has been adapted numerous times for television, theatre, radio and as the Academy Award-winning film Charly.

If sci-fi never is your favorite genre, then I suggest you to pick up this book and give it a try!

Science Fiction never appealed to me. If I were to enter a bookstore, I would walk pass the Sci-Fi section without a backward glance and head straight to the romance section, but I knew better to not judge a book by its cover, or to be more literal, its genre! How 'superficial' I can be, now I'll be browsing through the sci-fi columns anytime soon!

I had to read Flowers for Algernon as a part of a school assignment, I was reluctant at first, well for the obvious reason, it was for a school assignment, and I remembered groaning when the lecturer mentioned "sci-fi", but what surprised me is that :

1. My growing enthusiasm throughout the story and
2. What was the lecturer thinking! This is no school-reading-material!

Intelligence vs Emotions 

The story was written through the perspective of a mentally retarded male, Charlie Gordon, who undergoes an experimental surgery to make himself smarter. It was a brilliant move by the author because his narration only made me felt more emotionally connected to the main character to a level where I felt depressed and teary as I read through the pages.

I loved the way how Daniel Keyes had managed to capture the innocence and expressed it through Charlie, it was definitely eye-opening to see the world through Charlie's eyes. I never given much thought to how a mentally retarded person feels, but they lived in a world of extreme simplicity that people like us failed to fathom and it made me gained new respect for them.

"Its easy to make frends if you let pepul laff at you.” 

One thing I admire about this book is the characters, I was amazed by how the author managed to create various characters that symbolizes different kind of people in life, and despite how minor they are in the story, they never failed to leave an imprint in your mind. From The Bully to The Compassionate, and The Intelligent to The Selfish, each personality was well-depicted in the story and this made the readers relate well to the people in the book. 

On top of that, I was awed by how well Daniel Keyes portrayed the discrimination one like Charlie received, from family negligence to outright bullying, my heart weeps for Charlie. Yet, all in all, there was still hope and love for someone like Charlie. 

Overall, the story generally debated on the importance of intelligence and emotions. As Charlie continually developed intellectually, he still struggled with understanding his emotions, and for the most part it was because of the impact of his mother's action throughout his childhood. Charlie's journey in becoming smart was truly respectable, admirable and exceptionally courageous. 

I loved the friendship, the curiosity, the romance and the overall plot of the story! I was amazed I get out of this in one piece! 

If you are opting for a different kind of book, I would highly recommend you to give this book a try! It's definitely worth it. 

“Even a feeble-minded man wants to be like other men."
--Charlie Gordan” 

Reviewed by, 

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  1. Yay for books that get you to try new genres. :D I've heard a lot about this one but haven't read it yet.

    1. Haha! True!

      Oh you've got to read it!! =D I'm still riding on the after effects of this one, haha.


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