the death and life of charlie st. cloud

"the death and life of charlie st. cloud" by ben sherwoodWhen he was a boy, Charlie St. Cloud almost perished in a car crash that killed his little brother, Sam. Years later, Charlie is still trying to atone for his loss. It is only when he meets Tess Carroll, a captivating, adventurous yachtswoman, that he is faced with a choice — between death and life, the past and the present, holding on and letting go. The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud is a romantic and exhilarating novel about second chances and the liberating power of love.

i don’t know about exhilarating, but i sure found the book a very enjoyable read. this is my first ben sherwood novel, and i wasn’t sure what to expect. and what i got was an easy-to-read book with a simple story that has a lot of heart.

to be quite honest, i wouldn’t have picked this book up had it not been for the movie of the same name. i saw a link to the movie’s trailer in one of the blogs i frequent, and i was intrigued with the plot: a young woman becomes interested in a mysterious young man who used to be one of the most popular kids. now he is a loner, and he always disappears at a certain time of the day. he is charlie st. cloud. in the trailer, we learn that charlie got into an accident when he was younger, and he still lives with the blame of surviving while his younger brother died.

sounds simple enough, right? well, here’s the gimmick: charlie st. cloud is also still living with the ghost of said younger brother. and this younger brother is making him hold on to the promise that they will never leave each other.

my description of the movie’s trailer might already be colored by what i have read of the book though.

it’s a wonderful story about the love for family, for the familiar — and the discovery that maybe there’s something more. and it takes a young woman’s love, and plight, to change everything.

as with most novels, all is not what it seems with either charlie and the woman he falls in love with, tess. and though you do see the twists and turns as soon as the first foreshadowing hits the page, you don’t really mind. THE DEATH AND LIFE OF CHARLIE ST. CLOUD delivers a solid story of hope and, as the blurb said, second chances. and it is through the characters interactions with one another that the book becomes better than other books.

in the author’s notes at the back of the book, he thanks so many people who helped him in his research. and i think, i could be wrong, but i think that it’s because of these people that ben sherwood was able to create whole persons for his book. you don’t get a lot of time to introduce them, and you certainly can’t devote so-much-pages for supporting characters, but through their actions and their dialogues, you see the fullness of each character he introduces. these are the people who you might pass by on the street.

it does feel a little voyeuristic — and not just because the book also deals with ghosts who watch what happens to their families after their death.  but because it is written so personally, that it’s as if you’re reading into someone’s diary. or watching these people as their lives unfold through a one-way glass. but without this feeling of familiarity with the characters,this voyeurism,  i don’t think the book would’ve worked.

with this book in particular, it is important for the readers to be as all knowing as possible. it is important for the readers to know certain things the main character doesn’t know. so we could root for him, so we could feel for him, and in one instance, just so we can see how people make stupid choices when there’s something more important to be done.

i really enjoyed the book, as you can probably tell. now, i’m worried of how the film will turn out. i respect zac efron, who will be playing charlie st. cloud, as an actor. more so after the whole HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL thing ended. so i’m not worried so much about the main lead being likeable enough, or what-not. i’m worried though that because zac is way younger than the character of charlie in the book, it might mean the screenplay would have a lot of changes from the original material.

definitely though, i am looking forward to see the film version. let’s see if, at least, they were able to maintain the emotionality of the book.

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