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4.6 out of 5 stars
Flowers for Algernon: Student Edition
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on September 15, 1997
There are those who have attempted the topic before, to show the good or ill about artificially increasing a man's intelligence, and they have all fallen by the wayside, forgotten entries in the arena of literature, all because they forgot one factor: love.

In Flowers for Algernon, Keyes shows us a man who is jolted out of his comfortable world of stupidity and finds his friends who were not as good as he thought they were, that all he thought was nothing more than a veiled illusion. And he copes, as everyone must, he copes and finds love and comes to term with himself.

Just in time for him to realize that his intelligence is only temporary. In the most heart wrenching scenes of the novel, the reader must witness his intelligence fading rapidly, each journal entry a little less exact, the spelling a tiny bit worse, until the book comes full circle and he is back where he started from, only having a wisdom that he cannot understand, or comprehend.
Touching, moving, Flowers for Algernon is all that and more, it is an epic of emotion, an opera of getting what you want most and then realizing that you might have been better off.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on September 26, 2005
This book was touching and meaningful. If you are a fan of faster paced books, this novel may not be for you. Flowers For Algernon moves relatively slowly, and readers grow attached to the main characters. Within the novel lies different messages concerning morals and everyday struggles.
Unique, and unlike any other books I have read before. You may want to pick it up and have a read.
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on January 21, 2015
I first read this as a short story in high school as a required reading material. I decided to read the novel version this year. I always had a soft spot for Charlie Gordon in my heart because of how he is - not because I pity him, but because he needs so much more understanding from the people around him but all they do is make fun of him--and he doesn't even know it.

Reading the Progress Reports made it seem like he was writing to me, like Anne Frank and her Diary. I actually cried a little when it ended. It made me want to meet him and hug him (but of course, that's not possible as this is fiction).

Reading the book made me realize a lot of other things and reminded me of what I used to do when I was younger (like how to remember your dreams right after waking up before it all slips away)

I really recommend reading Flowers for Algernon because of how the story progresses and just how the minute details in spelling and all catch you off guard and make you feel like you're actually in that world.
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on November 9, 2010
This is absolutely one of the best books I have ever read (twice). I first had to read it sometime in high school or junior high for English class and it is the first time I remember staying up almost all night to finish a book (literally "couldn't put it down" as they always say), and the first time I remember crying after reading a book (still doesn't happen often - see Steinbeck's 'East of Eden' for an exception!). I dared to pick it up again a couple years ago (while studying neuroscience no less) and found my childhood praise vindicated.

Briefly (others have summarized it well), the story follows Charlie Gordon, a mentally handicapped ('retarded' in the parlance of the time) man in his thirties, who becomes the subject of a radical neurological procedure which raises his IQ to normal levels - and then far, far beyond. A mouse (the eponymous 'Algernon') undergoes the same procedure simultaneously and the experimenters keep tabs on both of them.

The genius of the book is that it is told in first-person 'logs' that Charlie is made to keep by the experimenters. Thus, in a way we know only what Gordon knows (as per the first-person medium), but at the same time we know so much more (or less), and here the book succeeds very well on an intellectual and emotional level. Throughout the first part, we witness Charlie being taunted and abused and not even knowing it, and it's heart-wrenching. Later in the book he becomes a super-genius of sorts, and the reader can hardly keep up with his theories of brain function derived from the Japanese neurological community (all fictional of course - but, though I can't remember the scientific details anymore, for what it's worth it all seemed very interesting and even semi-plausible to me when I read it last and was in the midst of studying very similar research in school).

Besides being intellectually interesting and emotionally stimulating, we get the roller-coaster ride of a man waking up to the world in a matter of days, suddenly discovering art, music, women, science, and his own morbid past - to say nothing of his terrifying future.

The ending is heart-breaking and beautifully done, though I don't wish to spoil anything. Just writing this review I'm determined to find another copy of this book and read it again - I gave mine away to a friend.

I feel this review has been utterly insufficient, so let me just say that this is an exceptional book and should most definitely be given a read. I've looked at the negative reviews on here, they appear to all have been written by bored, boring high school students. 'Nuff said.
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Along with John Updikes's "Rabbit Run" this is one of the great novels I have ever read. Period. Through the eyes and heart of Charlie Gordon, we see the best and the worst of humanity, we see a person with little resources available to him struggle with enormous challenges.
Thanks to a scientific invention that leads to a startling new procedure, Charlie's IQ raises from about 70 to over 300. It was interesting how getting smarter did not make Charlie any happier. He was probably happier mopping floors at the bakery than when he was able to understand "higher echelons" of society. The message of this book is that the goodness of the human heart can be pure regardless of educational level or intelligence.
I found most interesting how Charlie attempted to understand his earlier life as he gained more reflective abilities and how he attempted to understand his family. Also interesting...how he
attempted to understand women. As a lower functioning person, he barely grasped sexual politics if at all. When he is forced to understand, he still doesn't because he sees the old Charlie in himself no matter how smart he gets. He sees the old Charlie glaring at him in the mirror.
Even as he starts losing his intelligence because of a procedure that was not perfect, he still has the great desire to retain as much as he can, and to keep reading books, a brilliant way to say through a novel, that learning leads to more learning in life and you can never completely get back to where you were before, but hopefully always moving forward.
This, for me, made me more sure of my unconditional positive regard for humanity, especially the potential for learning and love that we all have. Charlie taught me a lot and I know he will teach you a lot too!(...)
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on April 1, 2004
Flowers For Algernon
By: Daniel Keyes
Reviewed by K. Wong
P.6
This book is about a 32 year old man named Charlie. He worked at a bakery. He wasn't like other people. Charlie wanted to learn how to read, write, and go to college. He would write in a journal everyday about what he's thinking. One day Charlie took a test to see if he can be operated on to be smarter. He did the operation and he tried doing some mazes with a mouse that had the same operation done to him. It took a long time to see if he was getting smarter. He still had to write in the journal everyday. Before the operation was done, his writing was weird but a few weeks after the operation was finished, his writing got better.
I like this book because it's about a person who really wants to learn something. He wanted to get smart and go to college. There was an operation done to him so he would get smarter. Everyday that he writes in his journal you can see he is getting smart because his spelling and grammar is improving. That was the first time that experiment has been done to a person.
"He sed sit down Charlie and make yourself cunfortible and relax." This is what Charlie wrote in his second entry before he was operated on. "As far as I can tell, in the daysbefore the operation, I never really understood what planes were." That was a quote after the operation was done.
My favorite part in the book is when they start doing the operation on him. A few days after he has to listen to a TV that helps you learn. It teaches you in your sleep too. I also like the part where his co-workers try to get Charlie in trouble with the boss. They try getting him in trouble by telling him to make dough when he isn't suppose to touch that machine to make dough. Charlie starts making the dough then Charlie's boss walks in and Charlie did a good job in making dough.
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on April 1, 2004
Flowers For Algernon
By: Daniel Keyes
Reviewed by K. Wong
P.6
This book is about a 32 year old man named Charlie. He worked at a bakery. He wasn't like other people. Charlie wanted to learn how to read, write, and go to college. He would write in a journal everyday about what he's thinking. One day Charlie took a test to see if he can be operated on to be smarter. He did the operation and he tried doing some mazes with a mouse that had the same operation done to him. It took a long time to see if he was getting smarter. He still had to write in the journal everyday. Before the operation was done, his writing was weird but a few weeks after the operation was finished, his writing got better.
I like this book because it's about a person who really wants to learn something. He wanted to get smart and go to college. There was an operation done to him so he would get smarter. Everyday that he writes in his journal you can see he is getting smart because his spelling and grammar is improving. That was the first time that experiment has been done to a person.
"He sed sit down Charlie and make yourself cunfortible and relax." This is what Charlie wrote in his second entry before he was operated on. "As far as I can tell, in the daysbefore the operation, I never really understood what planes were." That was a quote after the operation was done.
My favorite part in the book is when they start doing the operation on him. A few days after he has to listen to a TV that helps you learn. It teaches you in your sleep too. I also like the part where his co-workers try to get Charlie in trouble with the boss. They try getting him in trouble by telling him to make dough when he isn't suppose to touch that machine to make dough. Charlie starts making the dough then Charlie's boss walks in and Charlie did a good job in making dough.
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on November 12, 2003
So a good friend of mine told me about this book called Flowers For Algernon. I had never heard of it, but he said it was really good and recommended it to me. I asked a few other friends, and naturally, they had already read it in like seventh grade. I'm thinking, what the [heck], why haven't I read this book. So I picked it up from my college library, and good God, this book is amazing. The story is narrated by the main character, Charlie, a mentally retarded adult who is part of an experiment that involves surgery on the brain that makes him extremely intelligent. The book is written in the form of Charlie's "progress reports," and is a very original and emotional story. The story starts out with Charlie as he is before the operation, and he explains the procedure by telling the effects it has on a lab mouse that he likes, named Algernon. As the reader gets further into the novel, Charlie's narration gets much more intelligent, and rather than looking and reading like something written by a little kid, it reads and looks like a novel. From then on, the story takes the reader through an emotional journey with Charlie as he learns about his life, his family, love, and who he really is. Author Daniel Keyes creates the most original story and the most wonderful character in literature with Flowers For Algernon, and I highly recommend that you get this book.
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With Flowers for Algernon, Daniel Keyes has created a story that has touched the hearts of millions. In this classic novel he tells the story of Charlie, a retarded man who undergoes an experimental proceedure to make him more intelligent. Surprisingly the process works amazingly well. Charlie gradually gets smarter. Eventually he would qualify as one of the most intelligent human beings in history. There is only one problem, the process is flawed. This flaw is emphasized when Algernon, a mouse test subject that has received the same treatment begins to regress. The mouse eventually dies as Charlie peaks and begins to regress himself. Unfortunately the only person smart enough to find out what is wrong is Charlie himself. The race is on for Charlie to find a cure before his regression leaves him once more retarded, or dead. This book is a tender, sad, and brilliant mirror on the light and darkness of the human spirit. There is also the underlying message of 'becareful what you wish for...you may get it.' I cannot recommend this book more highly. You will enjoy watching Charlie realize that being intelligent doesn't mean you don't have problems.
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on May 29, 2003
Daniel Keyes�fs Flowers for Algernon is a science fiction narrative that was originally written as a short story in 1959 then expanded into a novel in 1966. The novel takes place in New York City. In this essay, I will give a literary analysis and criticism of the novel.
The novel�fs protagonist and narrator Charlie Gordon is a mentally [handicapped]thirty-three year old man. He works in a bakery and is always mocked by the other workers because he behaves like a child, having difficulty understanding, manipulating, and communicating information. Charlie is determined to become smart to have people like him and become his friend.
His wish comes true when a group of scientists gives him an experimental surgery to improve his intelligence. As a result Charlie increases his IQ from 68 to 185. At first Charlie is thrilled to be able to read and to work more efficiently at the bakery. However, he starts to see the cruel reality. He realizes how all the workers of the bakery used to terribly make fun of him and how he was never their friend. In addition, he realizes how now everyone resented him even more than they did before because he became smarter. The biggest surprise was at the Chicago psychology convention. He discovers that this change in intelligence might not be permanent. This makes him leave the conference and escape to New York, facing the outside world by himself.
The theme of the novel describes what happiness is really about. In the novel, the scientists say that when Charlie first came to them he was outside of society, alone in a great city without friends or relatives to care about him, and living a miserable life. That is not necessarily true. Charlie probably had a better and happier life before he became smart because he did not know the horrible side of humans with envy, hatred, lies, and apathy. The worst part is the Charlie discovered he had some of those features in himself. At one point in the novel, he becomes like the bakery workers that treated him poorly, and makes everyone else feel inferior.
The theme of the book is really important because it is saying that a person�fs happiness has nothing to do with intelligence. Just because a person is mentally [handicapped] does not mean that he or she cannot live a happy meaningful life. They explain this throughout the entire novel. I would definitely recommend Flowers for Algernon for young adults. It�fs a great novel!
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