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
Like historical fiction, Christian fiction/romance, classics, children's/teen fiction, fantasy. Paranormal is okay. No witchcraft/vampires.
A warning to parents: In high school, I must have read (and enjoyed) the short story Flowers for Algernon was based on rather than the full length novel. Now it has been decades, and I could be wrong, but I don't remember the short story having any sex in it. Although very good, a lot of sex is in the full-length version. It's not graphic like a romance novel, but a character in the story has an active sex life. There are also references to sexual desires from the point of view of a mentally retarded character.
Apart from that, I really enjoyed the book. The narrator was outstanding and completely believable as Charlie Gordon, a mentally retarded man who undergoes experimental treatment to increase his IQ after studies on a mouse named Algernon show potential. It chronicles his intellectual as well as his social/emotional development and raises questions on how society looks upon and treats the mentally retarded. It was written in the 1950s, but the story is timeless.
I think that this book, more so than others I've read, really needs to be listened to to fully appreciate it. It's told in first person in the form of Charlie's progress reports, and the narrator's voice reflects the change in Charlie's mental abilities as the story progresses.
Great character development as far as Charlie goes, less so for other characters. Still highly recommended.
Audible is better than TV
This will be long so I will give my summary in the first paragraph.
This is a classic written by a comic book writer and marvelously narrated making the original prose a 3 dimensional reality for the listener. On its own the book is a must read/own but this audio version is also a must have. Are you still with me? Is the book in your library yet? Go get it now and come back.
I wish I had a book club that read this because I am bursting to discuss all of the elements of this title. It is a very in-depth look into people, motivations, wants, desires, and more. How could so much be tucked away in this short prose; I have no idea, but it did and will keep me thinking about many of the aspects for some time to come.
Reading this story and watching the film as a teenager I was moved, but I missed much of what was within the pages. It must be my age that gave me better understanding now as I understand what it is like to have not, gain much, and have not again. I remembered the story was good but I wanted to go back to it. I had an extra credit so I decided to get the book here at audible.
A few minutes ago I sat in my work's parking lot riveted to the last chapter. It was impossible for me to go into work until the book was finished because it held me fast and unbidden tears were streaming down my cheeks. You see, I was not simply watching Charlie, I was Charlie. The author and narrator had done the very rare transportation of my soul into a character's reality. The narrator's part in this process is not to be dismissed. Never have I heard all characters in a story, including minor characters with no lines, so absolutely real and recognizable. How Woodman did this I don't know, but I will seek him out again and again. and I will read the author's other works even though I am sure they will be far lesser than this work.
The perfect timing to read this book is with your child in the summer prior to the first year of high school and then at the stage of life where life has been lived and strength and mind starts to falter. Read with your child and discuss the story to open all of its richness as you would do with a bottle of wine at a wine tasting party. It will motivate as you learn that one's intelligence is precious, learning is precious, and nothing completes the person without the heart. You learn that time is precious and you should not waste a moment of it.
The last thing I will say here is that most books have endings that let me down. I am very critical of endings. This is not the case here.
I will bring flowers to Algernon in my mind each day for many days in my mind.
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Potential spoiler ahead, be careful just in case!
I read this book in the 80s in my high school English class and all I remembered was the sad ending. That’s it. No other details.
Reading it now as an adult, I am struck by:
1- How good it is! I’d give it 6 out of 5 stars if I could.
2- How could I not have remembered ANY other detail??? Ok, it’s been about 25 years… but still!
Did 16 year old me like the story? What did I think? Did I connect with the book and the character? Looking back I doubt I did because it was assigned reading and that’s never fun.
Well, 42 year old me LOVED the story. I was hooked from the start and did not want to put it down. The story is so interesting and Charlie is such a compelling character I found myself rooting for him so strongly even though I knew how it all ends.
This is a great audible edition of the 1959 award winning novel. It's the novel that the movie Charlie was based on. It follows a mentally handicapped adult who has an operation to make him smart, and he becomes a genius. He is the guinea pig in a science experiment, and he tells the story of his life, past and present. The first half was interesting, and then became emotionally engaging as well in the second half of the novel. It did not feel dated at all. The is an oldie-but-goodie that I'd rate with 4.5 stars.
I wanted to love it, but to me it was a rollercoaster of sad, hopeful, elated, scared and worried, then ending in bittersweet sadness.
Researcher/oral historian and fitness enthusiast from Austin, TX, currently residing in San Diego. I love to read, but traditional books require a person to be sedentary while reading. Audio books make it possible for me to increase both my physical activity and reading quantity.
Profound and thought provoking. Each minute is worth every penny and more. There's no way you can not love this book.
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.
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.
Be careful what you wish for.
An absolutely fantastic read. Other reviews have given excellent outlines of the plot and topics addressed in this title, so I won't repeat them here.
We may have come along way in how we treat people with disabilities since this book was first published, but in some ways we haven't moved forward at all. Imparticular, how people view others with intellectual disabilities has not really changed that much.
This book will make you reflect on some many levels. For one thing, getting what we always desire doesn't necessarily make us any happier. How we treat and perceive people who are "different" can have both positive and negative affects on these people, but also can affect us even more profoundly.
Read this book, you won't regret it.
Retired to mountains of California. Sell on eBay as Prsilla. No TV. Volunteer in wildlife rehab. Knit, sew or embroider while listening.
Not an easy listen, but so worthwhile! Maybe the second listen will be better because one knows where it's going. I was not comfortable listening. Things could have gone so many ways. Still, heartbreaking, unforgettable and beautifully written. Jeff Woodman is marvelous.
The magic of this story is in the development, the progression, of Algernon; his growth from fumbling retard (perhaps a politically incorrect word, but precise to the time of the book) to an eloquent adult and beyond. It's incredible to hear this development, as read by Woodman, and I can't imagine it being as incredible of a journey had I had to read it myself, trying to manage the right pronunciation...
I love how this book develops, as simple as that. You see the world as Algernon sees it in every step and it's incredible to see the same world from so many different perspectives.
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