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Flowers for Algernon Paperback – May 1, 2005
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Following his doctor's instructions, engaging simpleton Charlie Gordon tells his own story in semi-literate "progris riports." He dimly wants to better himself, but with an IQ of 68 can't even beat the laboratory mouse Algernon at maze-solving:
I dint feel bad because I watched Algernon and I lernd how to finish the amaze even if it takes me along time.
I dint know mice were so smart.
Algernon is extra-clever thanks to an experimental brain operation so far tried only on animals. Charlie eagerly volunteers as the first human subject. After frustrating delays and agonies of concentration, the effects begin to show and the reports steadily improve: "Punctuation, is? fun!" But getting smarter brings cruel shocks, as Charlie realizes that his merry "friends" at the bakery where he sweeps the floor have all along been laughing at him, never with him. The IQ rise continues, taking him steadily past the human average to genius level and beyond, until he's as intellectually alone as the old, foolish Charlie ever was--and now painfully aware of it. Then, ominously, the smart mouse Algernon begins to deteriorate...
Flowers for Algernon is a timeless tear-jerker with a terrific emotional impact. --David Langford --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"A tale that is convincing, suspenseful and touching."--The New York Times
"An ingeniously touching story . . . Moving . . . Intensely real."--The Baltimore Sun
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Top Customer Reviews
It's a very thought-provoking story, all the more so when you consider that it was written about 40 years ago when society was a bit less tolerant of the mentally retarded than it is now. Charlie is a man in his 30s with an IQ of 68 when the book starts; through a controversial experimental operation, his IQ gets higher and higher until it soars at one point to 185. The story is told through the journal entries that he is told to keep for the researchers in charge of the study. Through Charlie's words, you can see how sharply his intellect grows and how difficult it is for him because as smart as he becomes, his *emotional* intelligence is still that of a child.
Charlie's emergence from ignorance is painful for him; imagine learning all of life's hard truth's in a matter of weeks rather than the normal development from innocent child to worldly adult. And the ending of the book is heartwrenching. Everyone should read "Flowers for Algernon" at some point in their life. It's a classic.
It is the story of Charlie Gordon, a man in his thirties with mental retardation. Charlie is the subject of a psychological research project at a university that is examining the effects of a new surgical procedure on mental retardation. Charlie's estranged sister gives the university permission to perform the procedure on Charlie. The procedure proves to be at least a temporary success and Charlie goes from having mental retardation to having an IQ of 185 in a manner of weeks.
The experiment is initially tried on a white mouse named Algernon. Algernon is tested through a complex maze where he is rewarded by food after reaching the end. Charlie races Algernon with a maze of his own and receives a shock if he goes the wrong way. At the beginning of the book, Algernon beats Charlie to the finish line every time. But Charlie soon soars past Algernon and through the process grows close to the mouse.
The book is written in the form of journal entries kept by Charlie for the experiment. At the beginning of the book, words are misspelled, ideas are vague, and relationships are simple. As the book progresses, so does Charlie's thought process and so do his relationships. Charlie learns what true love is as he falls in love with his teacher, Alice. He learns what physical love is as he comes into contact with his artistic and eccentric neighbor, Fay. And he learns the pains of relational love as he relives memories of his family and friends.
What was most touching to me about this book were these flashbacks and moments of recognition.Read more ›
His story is told entirely through Charlie's eyes and perceptions in the form of progress reports. The reader actually sees the change in Charlie take place, as his progress reports become more complex, well written, and filled with the angst of personal discovery and growth, as well as with his gradual awareness of his amazing and accelerated intellectual development.
The progress reports are a wonderful contrivance for facilitating the story, and the reader is one with Charlie on his voyage of self-discovery. What happens to Charlie in the long run is profoundly moving and thought provoking. It is no wonder that this author was the recipient of the Nebula Award, which is given by the Science Fiction Writers of America for having written the Best Novel of the Year. This is definitely a book well worth reading and having in one's personal collection. Bravo!
This book truthfully portrays how people treat others different from themselves and how unkind we can be to each other. We are able to get a glimpse of what it feels like to be made fun of and looked down upon by others.
Unfortunately, this book is on the Banned Book List. Censors claim that "explicit love scenes were distasteful." It also contains limited profanity and references to drinking. I believe that these scenes are essential to understanding how Charlie is progressing mentally as well as emotionally. They also are necessary to help us understand the characters' personalities. I feel certain that eight graders and above would be able to handle this book. I would certainly recommend it to adults as well as young people.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Not perfect, but an interesting idea, and I am tempted to order up one of the movies that was made.Published 2 days ago by Joel H Kramer
A classic. Bought it for my daughter who enjoyed it and of course cried.Published 2 days ago by Diane D Dean
Amazing read that really adjusts your perspective on where we place our values.Published 2 days ago by Sheridan Powell
This book touched me in so many levels.
I can relate with feeling alienated for not knowing or not being smart enough in many aspects of my life. Read more
Really thoughtful story written from the perspective of a man with learning disabilities. This should be an eye opener to all readers that there is more on the inside than we might... Read morePublished 13 days ago by Sue Suttle
I am trying to read all of the Nebula Award winning novels this year. This is my fourth. It is also the third time I've read this, although the other two times were long ago. Read morePublished 17 days ago by Melanie D. Typaldos