Select one of the keywords
The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud    by Ben Sherwood order for
Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud
by Ben Sherwood
Order:  USA  Can
Bantam, 2004 (2004)

Read an Excerpt

* * *   Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto

Do you believe in miracles? If you do, then you must read The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud. If you do not, then you must read The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud. Whatever your persuasion, Ben Sherwood will make you wonder.

When he was only fifteen, Charlie St. Cloud 'borrowed' his neighbor's car so that he and his younger brother Sam, along with the family dog Oscar, could go to a Red Sox game. On the way home, Charlie does not swerve fast enough. A drunken trucker hits him, killing both boys and the dog. Then a miracle happens: the paramedics are able to resuscitate Charlie. Thirteen years later, Charlie works as the caretaker at the cemetery where Sam is buried. As a result of his near-death experience, Charlie is still able to play catch with Sam and Oscar every evening at sundown. Charlie feels so bad about what happened in their youth that he has never ventured far from the cemetery for fear of losing his brother for good.

Suddenly Charlie's ritualistic life is turned upside down when a young sailor named Tess Carroll comes to visit her father's grave after weathering a particularly bad storm at sea in her sailboat. Charlie starts to feel for once that his life might be right again. But after something happens to Tess, Charlie is faced with the tough decision he was given thirteen years before when afforded a second chance at life. While many of the events in the story are not surprising, it does not affect the reader's enjoyment; after all, it is not a suspense novel. Sherwood has created such likeable and quirky characters that, even though you can predict events, you want to see how it unfolds for them. Also, even though death is a major theme, the mood is warm and fuzzy rather than gloomy and depressing.

I do not mean to sound like a movie review, but Ben Sherwood's The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud is the feel-good book of the year. Take some time to bask in its warm glow, then pass it on to a friend. This is a novel that everyone should be talking about.

Note: Opinions expressed in reviews and articles on this site are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of BookLoons.

Find more Contemporary books on our Shelves or in our book Reviews