Daniel Keyes: Flowers for Algernon (1975, Bantam Books) 4 stars

The story of a mentally disabled man whose experimental quest for intelligence mirrors that of …

Review of 'Flowers for Algernon' on 'GoodReads'

5 stars

Poignant, sad, and deeply insightful

I had been assigned a watered-down adaptation of this in Junior High, so I went into this with some knowledge of what the general arc would be. What I didn't expect is that I would be reading until the sun came up, bawling my eyes out, absolutely shaken.

From the very first page, I liked Charlie Gordon. He comes across as innocent and sweet, with good intentions and a very one-dimensional frame of reference to the world. There's a few moments where people ask Charlie things that made me chuckle, like his initial confusion at the Rorschach test, but his attitude is strangely endearing.

The prose in this book is phenomenal. The gradual narrative shift from crude writing to eloquent philosophical insight is kind of an amazing writing trick, and the development of Charlie's awareness is hypnotic to watch.

In a way, I was kind of reminded of the story of Faust, where a man tries to use his seemingly unlimited knowledge to get out of an inevitable outcome. I'd argue that Charlie is a far more sympathetic character, but watching his mind develop and deteriorate, along with his strained efforts to work against time, made for one hell of a roller coaster.

Beautiful, beautiful story. I haven't cried like that in a while.