Book Talk: ‘Flowers for Algernon’ still relevant


Read the first installment of Book Talk with Elizabeth Piquette about “Flowers for Algernon.”

Elizabeth Piquette, Staff Writer

Flowers For Algernon, written by Daniel Keyes and published in 1959, follows Charlie Gordon as he goes from an extremely low IQ, due to a condition called Phenylketonuria, or PKU for short, to genius in an experimental procedure never done on a human before. 

Algernon is a rat who has gone through the same procedure and is the only animal for the experiment to have lasted as long as it has. Other animals tested went back to the way they were before the procedure in a short amount of time. 

As the book goes on, we watch Charlie dig up his past since he doesn’t remember much of it. He passes people with the highest levels of education in terms of intelligence. He learns about himself, those around him, his past, and complex emotions and thoughts he’s never had before. 

He discovers the smarter he becomes, the more depressing life seems to become. He feels more alone than he ever has and pushes people away due to the rapid switch in personality and intellect. 

 I read Flowers for Algernon after a teacher recommended it to me. I love reading so naturally I got my hands on the book as soon as I could. I wasn’t expecting to love the book as much as I did, but once I started reading it I couldn’t stop – every chance I got, every spare moment. 

It’s a quick read that does a lot in a short amount of time. You will feel every emotion and feel a deep connection to the characters. 

The book has a very creative format, kind of like a diary with Charlie being the author. As he gets smarter, the better his grammar and the better the spelling. I’ve never read a book like it and it feels very fresh, despite it being published more than 60 years ago. 

I couldn’t recommend it more. It’s a very quick read that will leave you feeling many things and really make you think.