Charlie Gordon has an IQ of under 70 and has started writing progress reports because he’s been given the chance to become smart. This is down to an earlier test subject, a mouse named Algernon, that has become really smart — and stayed that way.
And that’s the premise of Flowers for Algernon, a book I saw reviewed favourably some time ago. And I’m reviewing it favourably here.
Right from the word go, when we started with the first progress report / journal entry, I knew what was going to happen to Charlie Gordon, but knowing where the story was going to take me didn’t lessen its impact. That’s what’s most impressive about Flowers for Algernon — by the time I got to the end, I was definitely about to sniffle in sympathy.
Some spoilers follow.
I do think that Charlie, in the end, wouldn’t have been unhappy. He was impressively philosophical about the whole thing. But reading the last few reports was where I wondered if this is how Alzheimer’s and dementia sufferers feel, when day to day tasks start to confound them and they forget things, but they are still completely aware of who they are.
Real food for thought, this novel.