Sunday, February 24, 2013

Flowers For Algernon

This novel was written by Daniel Keyes and published in 1966. The story is told through a series of progress reports made by Charlie Gordon. Charlie, a man with below average IQ, was chosen to be a test subject for an intelligence-boosting brain surgery. With a lab mouse named Algernon, who successfully underwent the same operation, Charlie tried to navigate the mazes of life.

After the procedure, Charlie's IQ increased threefolds. He began to see the world with new eyes. The things that gave him simple pleasures before seem ridiculous and stupid now. He realized the jokes he once shared with friends were actually mockings of his intelligence. He also developed a thirst for knowledge and learned everything he can. He became so mentally superior he belittled and disregarded the opinion of others. The story continued to show that the more Charlie knew (about the world and himself) the more he became depressed and aggressive.

"I don't know what's worse: to not know what you are and be happy, or to become what you've always wanted to be, and feel alone." -Charlie Gordon

The first time I read this book was when I was still in school, I thought it was poignantly written. Although it's categorized as science fiction, the story of Charlie illustrates our struggles as human beings. It deals with a person's triumphs and failures, hopes and dreams, the reality of our situations and how we deal with them.

Charlie and Algernon will intellectually stimulate and move you to tears at the same time. Happy reading!


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