Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

I’m technically a week late on my Classic Mondays post this month. But in my defence I arbitrarily set my own day and the first of the month has no business being on a Monday in any case.

This month I read Flowers for Algernon and I kind of feel like life will never be the same again. It’s a bit like when I watched It’s A Wonderful Life for the first time and knew that here was something that had touched me in a way very few things have. 

The plot in brief: Charlie is a friendly man with an IQ of 68 who is chosen to be the first human to undergo surgery to enhance his IQ to genius levels. His predecessor is a mouse called Algernon who has so far been the first mouse to display seemingly permanent results.

The book is formed of a series of ‘progress reports’ written by Charlie, at first in the form of badly spelt and barely punctuated short entries and his increasing intellect is shown by improved grammar, vocabulary and interests in the world. Intellectually, he is growing at unheard of speed. Emotionally he has been left behind and must navigate his life with increasing frustration.

The end broke my heart and I ended up crying so much on the train that the train inspector failed to check my ticket.

My advice would be to not read the blurb before you read, because most seem to give away the ending. Not that I was in any way less emotionally wrought from knowing what was going to happen but I feel like you would get a slightly more enhanced experience. But if you must read the blurb, still read the book. Read it now and bask in emotions you may never have felt before.


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