“Most of all, I miss that feeling when you go to sleep at night and when you wake up in the morning. It’s that feeling that everything is all right in the world. 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 for just a moment. It lasts a few seconds, but then I remember what happened, and how nothing has been the same since.”
Written by Ben Sherwood and published in 2004, The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud revolves around the character of Charlie St. Cloud, an accomplished sailor and devoted family member who promises to play baseball with his younger brother Sam every single day. But when Charlie and Sam are the victims of a car crash, Sam sadly dies and Charlie is resuscitated to find that he has the gift to interact with the dead. Years later, still atoning for his loss and guilt, Charlie is determined to keep his promise and still plays baseball with Sam’s memory in the depths of the forest. But when he meets Tess, Charlie must choose between the past and present; between living with the memory of his dead brother or saving the life of another.
The following post is a review of the book only. You can read my review of the film adaptation in comparison to the book here.
The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud is a romantic and exhilarating book that follows the journey from death to life. Set against a background of bereavement and grief, there are many conversations about what happens to us after we die, exploring the different ways that these characters have learnt how to move on from the loss of somebody close, and at the conflict of holding on and letting go.
As much of a fantasy as it is a romance, The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud isn’t your typical love story. When Charlie meets Tess, their relationship develops with Charlie’s struggle to choose life over holding onto a memory. With the unusual premise in which they meet, there’s a very supernatural feeling to the story, making their romance all the more powerful.
Moreso, The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud is about the love between two brothers. Charlie has the ability to talk to the dead, holding on to a promise to his younger brother that they will play baseball together every single night, even 13 years after he has died. Centring on this bond between these two brothers, the story is a joyous look at a close family relationship, but also at how loosing somebody so close can affect those around them.
“Trust your heart if the seas catch fire, live by love though the stars walk backward.”
Full of emotion, The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud serves as a reminder to live your life to the fullest, and to take chances. It may not be powerful enough to convert your beliefs about the afterlife, but it certainly has its meaningful moments.
The book is beautifully written, and its descriptions are so in-depth that you really find yourself part of the fantasy. And that’s what works best about this book; Sherwood has created Charlie’s world excellently, really make you feel a part of it.
The book itself is a simple read, one you will easily read in one sitting. This is partly due to you wanting to know how it all ends, but it’s also because of how fluid the story reads, meaning that you won’t even think about stopping. With engaging characters and a life-changing choice to be made at the end, this story will leave you with more than a few tears in your eyes.
Many of you will know of this book because of the adaptation which was released in 2010, but don’t let Zac Efron on the poster put you off. The film adaptation has a completely different audience, but this book is very much for readers of all ages.
The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud was adapted into a film in 2010, which you can read my Book vs. Film Review for here, and watch the trailer for below: