Flowers for Algernon - Daniel Keyes I'm having a difficult time rating this (its between 4 and 5 stars) so I'm just going to split the difference and say 4.5 stars. I wouldn't say that it's one of my all-time favorite books, but it definitely had a deep emotional impact on me and I won't soon forget about Charlie. In fact I'm looking forward to renting the movie when I get off work so I can revisit the story. I had heard of this book before but I didn't know that it was based on a short story and subsequently made into a movie. I think all those remakes say something about the subject matter - it bears repeating.

This is a science fiction novel unlike any other I've ever read. I've never heard of any other stories with this premise so it was very refreshing reading about something so unique and new (to me anyway). It's about a 30-something young man named Charlie Gordon who is mentally retarded. He wants so badly to learn new things, especially reading and writing, so he takes adult education classes when he's not working as a custodian at a bakery. A group of scientists has been working on an experimental operation to stimulate the brain and create genius which has proven to be quite successful on animal test subjects, particularly in a white mouse named Algernon. The scientists are looking for their first human test subject and end up choosing Charlie.

Charlie is so easy to invest all of your emotions in, so it's a tumultuous ride for the reader through his ups and downs. Add to that the first-person narrative and you feel an even tighter bond to him, like you're his best friend and he'll only talk to you after everyone else has left him. It's very intimate. The author did a wonderful job making you care for Charlie as well as all the social issues that his struggle brings to light: how mentally disabled people are treated and perceived by others, how disabled people view the world, and how society handles the handicapped. There's just so much inside of this seemingly simple book. I highly recommend it.