"You are altogether beautiful, my darling; there is no flaw in you." - Song of Solomon 4:7

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Book Review: Flowers for Algernon

Recently I read Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes, and I decided to venture into book reviews. This is my first review and I hope you enjoy reading it.
I really like this book. As soon as I started reading it I knew it would become one of my favorites. The concept of the story is that a new, secret medical procedure is performed on an intellectually challenged man named Charlie Gordon. This procedure's purpose is to increase intelligence, and has been tested on animals (although no humans) before. The chief test subject of this operation, besides Charlie, is Algernon, a lab mouse. Algernon's results have been the most stunning, and Charlie's progress soon begins to mirror the mouse's. Told in a series of progress reports from Charlie's point of view, Flowers for Algernon does a spectacular job of examining human intellect, emotion, and the connection between the two. One of the best ways I can describe it is as a "thinking book." By that phrase I mean the entire time I was reading Flowers for Algernon, I was thinking and thinking about many different things. To me, some of the most striking subjects touched are human empathy, sympathy, humanity, and love. For instance, as Charlie's intelligence increases, he begins resenting how Professor Nemur, one of the men involved in the procedure Charlie underwent, refers to himself as a sort of "maker" of Charlie. Nemur comes across as thinking Charlie was not human before he was intelligent. We also explore Charlie's past, and his struggles as a mentally disabled person. Some of the things people did to Charlie in order to amuse themselves and make themselves feel better about their own shortcomings were extremely upsetting. These instances forced me, as a person, to examine myself and think, "What am I doing to help others? How am I showing love to those who need it?" Of course, the other topics are touched with just as much detail and deft skill as Charlie's humanity is. As the story moves forward, Algernon's behavior becomes disturbing, and his intelligence begins to decrease. With Charlie realizing his time as a bona fide genius is possibly shorter than he originally thought, the reader witnesses a journey to a destination they, at one point, realize cannot be avoided by the novel's main character. Flowers for Algernon is a gorgeous depiction of people and their travels through life.

Would I recommend this book?  Most definitely.

Please feel free to tell me your opinion on this review, since it's my very first one! Thanks for reading! 

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