Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
When I was in eighth grade, I read the short story "Flowers for Algernon" as part of the curriculum. I can relate to Charlie Gordon in that I live in the world of the disabled and the world of the non-disabled as he did. Though for me, it's a little different. My disability was not removed by surgical means; rather, I am mildly disabled and I can talk to disabled kids better than I can other kids. But I can still talk to other kids; it's just harder. I can't blame that on my disability, but my point is, I feel my disability drives a wedge between me alone and the outside world; this happened to Charlie as well. I feel trepidation approaching others, getting involved in romantic relationships, etc. because the past with my own disability did not incorporate that, just like the way it was for Charlie.
But enough about me.
I can honestly say that the overall story is amazing: I remember reading the short story before my class did (I'm known for doing that, because of my intense love of reading) and crying after I'd finished.
Reading the entire novel, however, made it even better. I loved how the novel dove into Charlie's past. One of the things I often wondered about while reading the short story was why Charlie was so determined to learn. The novel explained that beautifully through flashbacks Charlie had. I felt so bad for him, yet I just wanted to know more. I loved the way they were written. And I loved how Charlie began to see the mentally challenged Charlie through hallucinations until he finally confronted the "boy," promising that he would not let go of learning. That, I think, shows true determination.
I also loved how this book showed you that being disabled is not all bad. Sometimes, it's better to be an innocent, mentally challenged man, than to give that up to learn, only to find that that man has become an "arrogant, antisocial bastard."
Charlie learned many things in the story, but most important was definitely, for me, that "the mind without the heart isn't worth a damn."
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