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Flowers for Algernon | [Daniel Keyes]

Flowers for Algernon

Charlie Gordon knows that he isn't very bright. At 32, he mops floors in a bakery and earns just enough to get by. Three evenings a week, he studies at a center for mentally challenged adults. But all of this is about to change for Charlie. As part of a daring experiment, doctors are going to perform surgery on Charlie's brain. They hope the operation and special medication will increase his intelligence, just as it has for the laboratory mouse, Algernon.
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Publisher's Summary

Charlie Gordon knows that he isn't very bright. At 32, he mops floors in a bakery and earns just enough to get by. Three evenings a week, he studies at a center for mentally challenged adults. But all of this is about to change for Charlie. As part of a daring experiment, doctors are going to perform surgery on Charlie's brain. They hope the operation and special medication will increase his intelligence, just as it has for the laboratory mouse, Algernon. Meanwhile, each day Charlie keeps a diary of what is happening to him. This is his poignant record of the startling changes in his mind and his life.

Flowers for Algernon was first published as a short story, but soon received wide acclaim as it appeared in anthologies, as a television special, and as an award-winning motion picture, Charly. In its final, expanded form, this haunting story won the Nebula Award for the Best Novel of the Year. Through Jeff Woodman's narration, it now becomes an unforgettable audio experience.

©1966 Daniel Keyes; (P)1998 Recorded Books, LLC

What the Critics Say

  • Nebula Award, Best Novel, 1966

"A tale that is convincing, suspectful and touching." (The New York Times)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.3 (1509 )
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4.4 (1235 )
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Performance
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  •  
    RoVing 10-07-12
    RoVing 10-07-12

    I commute about an hour each way to work and listen to audio books enroute. Sometimes I don't want to get out of my car because I'm at a really good place!

    HELPFUL VOTES
    21
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    15
    15
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    2
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    Story
    "Flowers"

    Even though you know how the story will end, it's a wonderful journey getting there. You feel his frustration at the beginning and end and you cringe at his sense of superiority in the middle.

    14 of 16 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sarah Dumoulin Kinburn, Ontario Canada 03-16-12
    Sarah Dumoulin Kinburn, Ontario Canada 03-16-12 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Great narration of science fiction classic"

    I think that this story lost some of it's punch for me as I knew so much about it before I started reading. Perhaps I would have preferred the short-story version, as I found that the story dragged in sections.

    The narrator does an excellent job of trying to portray Charlie's various levels of intelligence with his voice, versus the use of spelling errors and the like in the text version.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kryton2725 Fort Wayne, IN USA 10-26-11
    Kryton2725 Fort Wayne, IN USA 10-26-11 Member Since 2007

    Kryton

    HELPFUL VOTES
    77
    ratings
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    288
    19
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    Story
    "GET READY TO CRY!"

    It won't seem like it a first.. but if you're not distracted.... and you let yourself feel the story... you will be moved... so much so... I dare say... that everything you ever thought about those less fortunate than you are... will slowly melt away...This is a beautiful... sad... story.. worth every spare minute of your time... I don't want to ruin it for you... but... you need to know... that it will enrich your soul... and... it will break your heart...

    15 of 19 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tim United States 05-30-14
    Tim United States 05-30-14 Member Since 2010

    My reviews are honest. No sugar coating here.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    Story
    "Walk with a Swagger"

    It made me sad as I kept reading "Flowers for Algernon." I'm roughly the same age as Charlie and also was born with a disability. I could had had been mentally retarded, but by mother nature, my disability is different than his. I really don't think when Daniel Keyes was writing this book, he was going for the science fiction genre, but more how society treat people differently base on their mental status.

    As Charlie gets smarter and smarter, he is treated differently and his attitude becomes more pompous as he learns more and more. He is no longer the happy go lucky guy that used to mopped floors in the bakery. As the experiment becomes more successful, he starts losing himself.

    I can relate to Charlie. Although I am not a genius and I was raise in a loving family, the flashbacks of Charlie's parents is so real to me. For example, when his mother seeks for a cure to his mental retardation, I also had a similar instant in my life. For me, I had every treatment that my grandma could think of to make me try to walk or use my hands. None of the treatments worked and my family was forward thinkers at the time and gave me every resource to succeed.

    If there was a magic cure to relieved me from my Cerebral Palsy and be like Charlie and be normal, I wonder how would my friends and family treat me. More importantly would I be walking with the norm, or would I be walking with a swagger and start to distance myself from people that I use to know?

    This is an extremely powerful book. There is so much to the story other than the lab rat and the science experiment with the mentally retarded. A book like this is very rare these days.

    "Flowers for Algernon" was published in 1959 and I have yet to read anything else that touch me.

    Pure excellence. .

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Adrienne 05-28-14
    Adrienne 05-28-14
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Heartbreaking"
    Would you listen to Flowers for Algernon again? Why?

    Even when the ending was clear and inevitable I still wanted Charlie's fate to be different. He was a character you cheered for and wept for and wanted the absolute best for. He was an unexpected hero. His rise and fall were heart wrenching, especially when the people around him continued to fail him. Their insecurities became his obstacles, they could only accept him when they considered him to be less.


    What did you like best about this story?

    Charlie's awakening and realization that people he thought he could trust had betrayed him by treating him as a source of entertainment instead of as a friend.


    Which character – as performed by Jeff Woodman – was your favorite?

    Charlie.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    Be careful what you wish for.


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Harriet Kill Devil Hills, NC, United States 04-26-14
    Harriet Kill Devil Hills, NC, United States 04-26-14 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A Moving Story"
    Any additional comments?

    Really good book! I wish science had come that far. You have to love Charlie with all that he went through. I cried alot.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Alejandra Viaduc 01-20-14 Member Since 2011
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    "Fantastic!"
    What made the experience of listening to Flowers for Algernon the most enjoyable?

    Charlie changes and morphs a lot through this story. I love that the narrator changed with Charlie. It helped to capture what was going on.


    What did you like best about this story?

    This is a very quick read that will make you feel something, and think something. Guaranteed.
    The honest emotion behind Charlie is so pure and believable, and it evolves so well as the story progresses.
    I also love that we are reading Charlie's diary the whole time. It adds another level of ethical dilemma to the story.
    Should we be doing this? And SHOULD we be DOING this??! (Science playing God, and reading someone else's diary.)


    Which character – as performed by Jeff Woodman – was your favorite?

    Charlie! He's the main event, so that makes sense.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    A journey inside an evolving mind.


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jami VICTOR, NY, United States 10-21-13
    Jami VICTOR, NY, United States 10-21-13 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A Moving Story"

    I wasn't sure how I would rate this book until the end. Upon reflection of the total story, I decided I really liked it. The narration was excellent and you could tell exactly when Charlie progressed and regressed. A bittersweet, thought provoking story. I'm sure I didn't think of it on this level when I first read it as a youth. I'm glad I decided on the re-read as an adult.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Pattie MARINA DEL REY, CA, United States 08-02-13
    Pattie MARINA DEL REY, CA, United States 08-02-13 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Fabulous Story!"
    What made the experience of listening to Flowers for Algernon the most enjoyable?

    I loved this story and the Narrator did an amazing job.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Flowers for Algernon?

    I will remember the overall story for a long time to come.


    Have you listened to any of Jeff Woodman’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    No


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Yes


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mema NY, United States 05-23-13
    Mema NY, United States 05-23-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Such a "moving" book"
    Any additional comments?

    The story and narration are both superb. Immediately I was drawn to the main character Charlie Gordon and felt his heartbreaking struggles. I will definitely listen to this again at some point. I highly recommend this book.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
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