I don’t have so much time for books nowadays. My goodreads challenge gets smaller and smaller every year, but I do manage to select the books I want to read to make sure they are really worth it. Flowers for Algernon is one of the books I read recently and I just loved it. The story is very sensible and sad, but it shows all these great values that simple people still have and that we, living in a modern and consumerist society, tend to forget about.
Flowers for Algernon is the story of Charlie Gordon, a cleaner who has an IQ of 68, but who “reely wantd to lern I wantid it more even then pepul who are smarter even then me … all my life I wantid to be smart and not dumb”. The book is written as short diary entries, and using Charlie’s way of writing, full of errors, introduces us directly into his simple soul and mind, making the character even more powerful and making us understand him and empathize with him to the maximum.
Charlie Gordan is a 37-year-old honest man of low intelligence. When he undergoes an experimental surgery that increases his intelligence, the low IQ that once chained him down leaps to an unbelievable 200. He experiences the joy and strength of processing new knowledge but like all things, intelligence comes with a price. Charlie is shocked when his once innocent eyes open up to the beauty and cruelty of reality. He also faces emotional pain and sorrow when he sees the way those who are mentally retarded are treated and are isolated from the world. Through journaling, Charlie keeps record of his progress and the effect the surgery has on his life.
As Charlie’s intelligence grows, his writing level also improves, until he gets to the point where he is very academic and uses a very complex and sophisticated language.
I would say that this book is a very educative one, especially when trying to deal with people with mental handicaps. And maybe it’s a very good book for children and teenagers, to help them understand that, in the end, we are all human and you become more and more human when you treat others like you would also like to be treated by others.