Title: Flowers for Algernon
Author: Daniel Keyes
Genre: Science Fiction
Buy on The Book Depository
Charlie Gordon is about to embark upon an unprecedented journey. Born with an unusually low IQ, he has been chosen as the perfect subject for an experimental surgery that researchers hope will increase his intelligence–a procedure that has already been highly successful when tested on a lab mouse named Algernon.
As the treatment takes effect, Charlie’s intelligence expands until it surpasses that of the doctors who engineered his metamorphosis. The experiment appears to be a scientific breakthrough of paramount importance until Algernon suddenly deteriorates. Will the same happen to Charlie?
Charlie has always tried to be kind and good to people. He liked to please and make people happy. If there’s one thing Charlie wanted most in the world, it was that he wanted to be smart. If he was smart, his mother would love him, he’d have friends, and he’d be able to understand things going on around him. If he was smart, he’d belong.
When Charlie undergoes a surgery that increases his intelligence, he realizes things are not always what they seemed. Charlie starts to see people for who they really are; coworkers he considered friends actually mocked him and researchers he admired only saw him as an experimental subject. Charlie also remembers events from his childhood and comes to an understanding of why he hasn’t seen his family in over ten years. For the first time, Charlie discovers how people see others with mental disabilities and it hurts him.
“I don’t know what’s worse: to not know what you are and be happy, or to become what you’ve always wanted to be, and feel alone.”
As Charlie’s knowledge expands, he starts questioning and exploring ideas about life and science. But despite his high IQ, Charlie is still very much a child and gradually learns about human nature, social norms, and relationships. Charlie’s life changes as news of his transformation travels the globe. With his intelligence, Charlie becomes determined to advance research that can help others like him.
Flowers for Algernon is a touching story of a simple man who yearned for love and affection. Charlie’s account of his life had me feeling a slew of emotions and seeing the world through his eyes gave me much food for thought. Charlie Gordon is a character I will cherish for a long time and I hope more people read his story.