Tag Archives: emotional problems

Flowers for Algernon – thought-provoking and engaging

Flowers-for-Algernon-_book_coverTitle: Flowers for Algernon

Author: Daniel Keyes

Flowers for Algernon, by Daniel Keyes, is the story of a man named Charlie Gordon. Charlie was born with a brain disorder that caused him to have an IQ of just 68. However, Charlie has just been approved to pilot a radical operation that will turn him into a genius. Well, human pilot. It’s already been tried on a rat named Algernon, and it was an unqualified success. The story is told as a series of “progress reports” written by Charlie after the operation, for the purpose of documenting the effects of the operation for science. The operation is a fast success, and soon Charlie has an IQ of 185 and is an expert in every subject. But can his humanity survive the change?

For me, Flowers for Algernon was an extremely engaging and thought-provoking book. The book starts out with a quote from Plato comparing visual impairment with mental impairment, and admonishing anyone who would laugh at those with either. This seems like a straightforward thing to do. Only a deeply cruel person would laugh at a disabled person. But Flowers shows us that even our most well intentioned acts can carry unconscious cruelty. The scientists who design the operation, the medical community, even his own mother are all trying to “fix” Charlie. But, as Plato said, “the bewilderments of the eyes are two kinds, and arise from two causes, either from coming out of the light or from going into the light.” At the beginning of the story, Charlie was entirely in the dark, the worlds of politics, academics, and religion closed off to him because of his illness. Yet, when he comes into the light, is he not equally blinded?

As he gains intelligence, Charlie very quickly realizes that most of those whom he thought of as friends were actually laughing at him, patronizing him to feel better about themselves. He starts to see people for who they really are, frauds trying to navigate their way through life. As he surpasses everyone in intelligence, people start to resent him, and his social relationships suffer. He finds himself no more a part of the world than he was before. I was absolutely absorbed by Charlie’s transformation, from what was essentially a small child to an adult. The characters in this book are very believable, from the scientists that designed the procedure, Dr. Strauss and Dr. Neimar, to Charlie’s former teacher and current love interest, Miss Alice Kinnian. Everyone had a different, unique reaction to Charlie’s change, and they all teach him something about what it is to be human. This was probably my favorite part of the story, during his transition from “idiot” to genius.

There are too many themes in this story to count: The benefits of innocence, the insecurity of mankind, the limits of intelligence, the allegory of life. Yet what remains most striking is the emotional attachment that we feel for Charlie during the course of the novel. One of the things that makes me personally feel the most emotional is when someone who clearly is in a terrible situation nonetheless maintains a positive attitude. Charlie, and we imagine Algernon as well, don’t want people to feel sorry for them. All they really want is to impress their families and peers. In my opinion, Keyes is telling us that we have no obligation to do so. Charlie so desperately wanted to be smart, he never realized that what he had – his innocence, his kindness, his drive, and his love of people – was worth more than that. Life isn’t a contest like Algernon’s maze, after all. No matter what you do, you’ll reach the end. The value comes from the relationships that you form in the somewhere in the middle. A lot of society’s ills come from people taking themselves too seriously, worrying too much about their own pride. As Charlie puts it, “Its easy to have frends if you let pepul laff at you. Im going to have lots of frends where I go.”

-Jacob, Greenwood, Teen Blogger


Teen Poetry – Emily – Just Because I’m Quiet / Insane

Just Because I’m Quiet

Just because I’m quiet

It doesn’t mean I’m mad

Doesn’t mean I don’t care

Doesn’t mean I’m really shy


Just because I’m quiet

Doesn’t mean I don’t understand the work you give me

It doesn’t mean I don’t like you

It doesn’t mean I’m sad


Just because I’m quiet doesn’t mean I hate the world

So just stop asking

It’s annoying

Continue reading

Teen Poetry – Emily – Depression / Dear Mom


It was in third grade when I met her

She had crazy hair

But, I didn’t care.

We became best friends in 4th grade

She told me everything

She hated everything

She hated herself the most

I tried to help her

But she denied

She truly hated herself

I felt bad.

I really wanted to help

She denied every compliment she got

She would smile

But everyone knew it wasn’t real.

She tried to be happy

But it didn’t work out.

She cried day and night

She hated herself

And her life

She soon realized that pain felt good

She hid her cuts so no one saw

We soon found out everything

I checked up on her everyday

I tried to help, I really did.

She seemed happy and thankful

But…it was all a lie

She was the same as before

She realized this wasn’t the right place for her

She left…

I didn’t even get to say goodbye

Or wish her to be happy there

She was gone as fast as lighting

We all cried

But we all saw it coming

It wasn’t a big surprise

Continue reading

Speak: Important lesson about rape culture

speak–Title: Speak

Author: Laurie Halse Anderson

Summary: Melinda is a new freshman in high school. This year should be about a fresh start and new beginnings, but an event that happened over the summer is keeping Melinda from enjoying high school as much as she should. She was invited to her first party and after trying a drink and becoming a bit unsteady, a boy takes advantage of her and rapes her. She doesn’t tell anyone at first. She isn’t even able to name the event or admit it to herself. She spends the year contemplating the event and trying to come to terms with what happened. The ending is powerful.

Six Word Review: Teaches important lesson about rape culture.

I started reading because: The cover really caught my eye. It has a tree on it. Melinda is good at art and she spends the year working on a project that depicts a tree. It’s very fitting because her personal growth coincides with the growth of her art tree.

I would give this book 10/10 stars because it was so good I couldn’t put it down. I read it all in one sitting. The message is so powerful and especially relevant to our culture today.

I loved Melinda’s hippie art teacher. The things he tells Melinda are some of the most quotable lines of the book. I hated that not everyone in the entire world had read this book.

If the lead character Melinda was in a high school yearbook, he/she would be voted Most Likely To: Become A Famous Artist

Anything else we should know? There’s a movie based on this book, but I think it’s really important that you read this book just because so much of the story is told through Melinda’s inner thoughts. It’s titled Speak because Melinda becomes so quiet after being raped and finally speaks out at the end of the book. It’s a powerful component of the story and it’s lost in the movie.

–Regina, West Seattle


Book Shorts: The Only Alien on the Planet

The Only Alien on the Planet

Title:  The Only Alien on the Planet

Author:  Kristen Randle

Summary:  After moving to the East Coast, Ginny enters her senior year of high school and uncovers the secret behind a new friend’s refusal to speak.

I started reading it because… I love scifi and thought this was actually about aliens.

I kept reading because… Even though there was a disappointing lack of extraterrestrial life, I was unable to put this down once I started. The main character Ginny is funny and believable, and the mystery she’s trying to solve about one of her new classmates is fascinating.

Main character(s): If they were in a yearbook, they would be voted Most Likely To: Crush on the Worst Possible Person in the World

Six Word Recap: Teen girl uncovers major family drama.

This book reminded me of Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta, because they both have main characters starting at a new school and dealing with emotions and relationships they’ve never had before.