Flowers for Algernon

Flowers for AlgernonFlowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book…

It’s a classic. Hmmm… Now I have acquired an appreciation for classic it seems. Earlier, I used to swear up and down that I would never pick up a classic unless required by my school curriculum. I was a very naive reader. The word ‘classic’ automatically flashed my mind to Jane Austen, Wuthering Heights, Rebecca- all great and thought-provoking works of the past centuries but really not up my alley. Somehow, it escaped my mind that 1984 is also a classic. But nevertheless, now I realize there are so many more classic out there- sci-fi classics.

Flowers for Algernon is a tale of perseverance and hope, human frailty and acceptance, hubris and acumen. Charlie is a 32-year old man with an IQ of 68, who just wants to be smart so he can have lots of friends but is stuck sweeping the floor of the bakery where he’s worked for the past sixteen years. Then, he’s proposed a chance to increase his intellect through an experimental surgery previously operated only on animals.

Charlie’s ordeal through his dark days and enlightened days are recorded in his progress reports. It’s a very thought-provoking and heartbreaking journey. Reading through Charlie’s progressions as he develops from a retardate into a genius, his troubles as he faces his past, memories that come back to haunt him, his regression towards the end, his insecurities and shames, it gives you a new perspective regarding every person around you. Though Charlie Gordon becomes a pioneer in neuro-science, the first dumb person to do so, he is still very much a child inside. He starts to see the cruelty and harshness in the world around him. He begins to realize that people who used to be his friends are actually laughing at him, not with him. At his apex, he becomes a full-fledged scientist and surpasses his own self-proclaimed creators.

This books asks a lot of questions, the foremost being: is it better to suffer unknowingly or to feel every last bruise and scratch? It’s very sad and tender novel that hits you right in the feels with that ending.

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