Recently in school, we had the opportunity to read the classic novel, Flowers for Algernon, by Daniel Keyes. Obviously, I chose to read it. When I started it, I realized immediately that it was something special. It follows the story of Charlie Gordon, a thirty-two year old man with the mental age of a child, living in New York in the 1960’s. When he is chosen for an experiment that would triple his intelligence, his life turns upside down. The story is told in the form of progress reports that Charlie wrote throughout the experiment to show his progress. As Charlie’s intelligence changes, so does the writing style. it is ritten a litle bit like this at leest in the begening.
In case you’re wondering who the heck Algernon is, he is the lab mouse that was used to test the experiment before Charlie. The success of the experiment on Algernon is the reason the scientists were confident enough to try it on a human subject. But when Algernon’s mental state starts to deteriorate, well, no spoilers.
This book is so well written that it truly seems like a current news article. But, in case there is any confusion, it is not a current news article; it’s fifty-three-year-old fictional story. However, this is not to say that it is an easy read. It is an extremely complex book that takes time and effort to get through, especially about 75% of the way through. That’s when there’s a bit of a boring part (but it gets good again so don’t give up on it). But, if you don’t want to read the whole novel, I have good news for you. There’s a short story version. Of course, the short story doesn’t have nearly the detail that the novel does.
Overall though, Flowers for Algernon is one of the best, most thought provoking books that I’ve read in a long time. It put me into the mindset of multiple people all in one. I was able to see how the same situation could be perceived dramatically differently by someone mentally impaired, or a genius. It ultimately looks at how society reacts to different people, and how those people react to society. I would suggest it for anyone probably in high school or maybe middle school. The reason I wouldn’t suggest it for anyone younger is that there is quite a bit talk of sex but mainly I don’t think a young kid would have the patience to make it through. But enough of me, go read it!
Oscar Wolfe is the founder and lead writer of That is Great!, a blog about great stuff—from science and politics to entertainment—aimed at kids and teens. Oscar has interviewed many celebrities, politicians and business leaders including Sen. Al Franken, Henry Winkler, Billy Crystal, Laura Marano, Lizzy Greene, Kyle Rudolph and Evander Holyfield. He has written for Mpls.St.Paul Magazine, appeared on the American Public Media podcast Smash Boom Best, and been featured on Kare11 News. His award-winning short story, No Paine, No Gain, was published in the 2015-2016 selected works from COMPAS. Oscar, 14, is an eighth grader at Hopkins North Junior High where he is a member of the student council and participates in cross-country, wrestling, and track as well as band. He has appeared in numerous plays at school, the Sabes JCC and Stages Theatre Company.