Friday, July 30, 2010

The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud by Ben Sherwood

Title: The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud
Author: Ben Sherwood
Publisher: Bantam Books
Hardcover, 269 pages
Date Published: March 2, 2004
Description (Taken from Goodreads
The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud tells the haunting story of a young man who narrowly survives a terrible car wreck that kills his little brother. Years later, the brothers’ bond remains so strong that it transcends the normal boundaries separating life and death. Charlie St. Cloud lives in a snug New England fishing village. By day he tends the lawns and monuments of the ancient cemetery where his younger brother, Sam, is buried. Graced with an extraordinary gift after surviving the accident, he can still see, talk, and even play catch with Sam’s spirit. But townsfolk whisper that Charlie has never recovered from his loss.

Into his carefully ordered life comes Tess Carroll, a captivating, adventuresome woman training for a solo sailing trip around the globe. Fate steers her boat into a treacherous storm that blows her back to harbor, to a charged encounter with Charlie, and to a surprise more overwhelming than the violent sea itself. Charlie and Tess discover a beautiful and uncommon connection that leads to a race against time and a desperate choice between death and life, between the past and the future, between holding on and letting go.

Luminous, soulful, and filled with unforgettable characters,
The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud is one of those rare, wise books that reveal the mysteries of the unseen world around us, gently transforming the worst pain of loss into hope, healing, and even laughter. Suspenseful and deeply moving, its startling climax reminds us that sometimes tragedies can bring about miracles if we simply open our hearts
There is so much I could say about The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud. It is a touching, emotional journey that will give you hope and make you believe in miracles. Charlie St. Cloud has so much going for him, with all the promise in the world, but when he makes one mistake, he loses it all. The death of Charlie’s brother Sam tears him apart. Yet thirteen years later, Charlie can still see and interact with his dead brother. Every night they play catch. Sherwood could have left the story at that and I think it still would have made for an emotional and heartbreaking story. Add in Tess, a beautiful sailor who hits it off with Charlie just before she’s preparing to sail around the world, and a complicated situation gets even more complex.

Sam lost his life in a terrible tragedy, but so has Charlie. There is a sadness that hides behind Charlie’s dimples and sly grins. He won’t allow himself to truly be happy because of the blame he harbors.
“You know, that amazing feeling that you’re whole, that you’ve got everything you want, that you aren’t missing anything. Sometimes when I wake up, I get it just for a moment. It lasts a few seconds, but then I remember what happened, and how nothing has been the same since.”
Sam and Charlie are two souls who cannot live without the other, but when does the loss of one life justify giving up another?

The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud has a serene feel to it, almost as if you’re along for the ride as a spirit, traveling with Charlie and finally seeing all the world has to offer. I loved every aspect of it. Sherwood has such a way with words. Sometimes the most simplistic of sentences carry so much weight with them.
On the horizon, he saw the full moon. God dropped it there, he was sure, as a reminder of our small place in the world. A reminder that what is beautiful is fleeting.
Sherwood presents us with the choice between two worlds, between life and death. The beauty of love, of loss, and of moving on is a miracle that all people experience and Sherwood harnesses that magic so well.
That is the inescapable math of tragedy and the multiplication of grief. Too many good people die a little when they lose someone they love. One death begets two or twenty or one hundred. It’s the same all over the world.
This is a profound story not only shows the magic of life, but also the magic in death.

Opening line: I believe in miracles.

Favorite line(s): “Wherever it is, death isn’t the end. It’s an elevation, really. It’s like catching the moon.”
*This review is my honest opinion and I received no monetary compensation from it.

The movie adaptation, Charlie St. Cloud, starring Zac Efron is in theaters today. I plan on seeing it this weekend. Here's the trailer:

3 comments:

Melissa said...

OOoooh I love this book! I want to see the movie, but I'm not the biggest fan of Zac Efron haha

Lisa_Gibson said...

I think I may have to go get this book. I would like to see the movie, but don't really want to bawl my eyes out in the theatre either. Book first I think. :)

Lisa ~ YA Literature Lover

Nikki (Wicked Awesome Books) said...

@Melissa - I've heard that people have truly enjoyed his performance in the movie. I'm more of a Zac fan, so I'm happy to see him in it, but I hope(if you do see it) that you enjoy it.

@Lisa_Gibson - Book first is always best. The books are always better anyway. The movie does change some things like the time elapsed since Sam's death because no way is Zac Efron playing a 28 year old guy because that is how old Charlie is supposed to be in the book. Happy reading!

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