Flowers for Algernon

I read this book in high school, a long time ago. The story has stuck with me. It's science fiction but it could be horror. Not because it's gruesome, creepy or morbid. Just because the idea of seeing yourself so clearly and so much better than you had been before - only to then be returned to what you had been... that seems horrifying to me.

Flowers For Algernon
Flowers For Algernon

The book came first. There are at least two movies created from the story in the original book. I've seen the older movie and I've read the book. The book had more impact and meaning to the telling of the story. It was less like seeing the story through someone else's vision rather than your own.


Algernon is the mouse in a lab experiment. Charlie is the man picked to take part in the same experimental brain surgery. It all seems to work so well at first.

Algernon is exceptional, the experiment seems to work with greatly positive results! So they pick Charlie because he has never been exceptional, intellectually, and this is what the experiment is all about. Can they improve the intelligence and thus the whole life of someone who started out the level of below average? Can they turn Charlie into a genius?

At first Charlie is still being beaten by Algernon, the mouse. Charlie doesn' tlike that, of course. He has always known he was not as smart as some people but he looks up to people and thinks well of everyone. He believes the people he works with are his friends. One of the saddest parts of the book is Charlie's realization that they were making fun of him, even treating him badly but he never understood enough to know.

Charlie improves, understands more, sees more and begins to want more for himself too. It's not long at all before he is beyond any intelligence level in Algernon, the mouse. Charlie even surpasses the scientists who created and performed the experiment. Charlie falls in love, makes plans for the future... but one day Algernon dies.

Algernon had started losing his super intelligence, gradually. Charlie, knowing he had the same surgery, expects his results will backslide and now, knowing and understanding so much more he knows he is going back to who he was before. the difference being that now he sees a very different picture of who he was before and how he was treated by other people.

If knowledge is power, is ignorance bliss?

How would it feel to have come far, learned so much, changed your life and yourself and then have it all taken back until you are reduced to so much less than you had been even for a short time? I can't imagine living each day as someone who understands the jokes people made about him when he was less intelligent and knowing you would soon be back to that life again.

Of course, there is a movie too. Read the book first.

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Guestbook 8 comments

That Grrl profile image

That Grrl 14 months ago from Barrie, Ontario, Canada

I last read this book for school, such a long time ago now.

Susan300 profile image

Susan300 20 months ago

Classic, awesome book!! Those 'required' book lists had some real gems. :)

Seasons Greetings profile image

Seasons Greetings 20 months ago from Ontario, Canada Hub Author

@tysam lm: Two movies made from it. I've only seen the older one.

tysam lm profile image

tysam lm 20 months ago

One of my favorite books ~~ that I was forced to read in school :) ~~ and ended up reading over and over again... thanks for the review and reminding me of this interesting story, I never knew there was a movie made of it either..

Ibidii 20 months ago

I enjoyed Charly before I read Flowers for Algernon the book as an adult. I have not seen Flowers for Algernon (2000) yet. I will put that on my list. Congratulations on Review of the Day!

Seasons Greetings profile image

Seasons Greetings 20 months ago from Ontario, Canada Hub Author

@GeorgeneMBramlage: You're welcome and thank you. :)

GeorgeneMBramlage profile image

GeorgeneMBramlage 20 months ago from southwestern Virginia

Congrats on your "Review of the Day." Not only is this powerful book, but your review of it is stellar. It slowly but surely leads me into wanting to not only read the book, but see the movie. Thanks so much for writing this review for us.

tonyleather 20 months ago

Excellent review of a truly memorable book!

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