Timeless Science Fiction Classic


Charlie Gordon was born with a very low IQ. He has never been able to learn quickly, if at all, and does not pick up on social cues (being picked on or teased). At 32, he undergoes surgery in an effort to increase is intelligence level. The surgery is experimental. It was first tested on Algernon (a mouse) and Charlie is the first human. Now, he faces a new world of hardships and relationships, as people treat him as either a stranger or an experiment. This is Charlie's story about what he learns during this experiment, both mentally and emotionally. 

BTSYA / Teen Reader (16):
Upon rereading this book from a year ago, I found myself enjoying this book. I especially enjoyed digging into the character of Charlie and his interactions with others. Comparing who he was at the book's beginning to where he is in the middle when he reaches his intellectual peak is fascinating. Seeing him at the end of the book is heartbreaking.

Because of the language, sexual content, and complexity, I recommend this book to teenagers and older readers.

Reader Enjoyment Factors:

Charlie is a character whom readers will like, and his situation will make them think, not only in the context of the story itself but also with a broader, current look at how we help and treat those with mental health and cognitive issues.

Content Awareness Factors:

In the story, Charlie is dealing with sexual performance anxieties and trauma from his childhood. These descriptions and the strong language/profanity make this book more suitable for high school students and older, despite its middle-grade reading level. 

Type of Book:
This is a first-person story that, although science fiction, makes people think about how we treat others, ethics, and morality.
Educational Themes:

As our teen reader notes, there is a lot to explore in Charlie's character. She focuses on his personality, but his life choices (pre- and post- surgery) are also ripe for discussion. The experiment, too, creates opportunities to discuss medical ethics, science, and the treatment of mental health, both historically and in current contexts. We found a great set of discussion questions at Lit Lovers.

Reading Level:
Recommended Age To Read By Yourself:
15 and Up
Recommended Age To Read Together:
15 and Up
Age of child:
Teen STAR Review Team, Be the Star You Are!™ . Reviewer age: 16
Purchase Recommendation:
Borrow. This is a book you'll read and reflect on, but probably won't read again.

Title Flowers for Algernon
Author Daniel Keyes
Publisher HMH Books for Young Readers © 1995
ISBN 9780151001637
Material Hard Cover
Cost $17.00
Genres Short Stories, Science Fiction
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Other Reviews:

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