Title: Charlie St. Cloud (Originally published as The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud)
Author: Ben Sherwood
Published: June 2010
Published By: Bantham
Format Read: Paperback
Genre: Romance, Contemporary, Spiritual
Date Read: June 4 2015
“You may think that some of this seems far-fetched, even impossible. Believe me, I know we all cling to life and its certainties. It’s not easy in these cynical times to cast off the hardness and edge that gets us through our days. But just try a little.” Pg. 3-4
Charlie and his younger brother Sam were the best of friends and with a single mother working hard to make ends meet, they often spent a lot of time together on their own. One night as a young teen Charlie decides that he would “borrow” their neighbour’s car and take in a baseball game in the city. Unfortunately on the way home later that night, tragedy struck when they were hit by a truck. Young Sam and their dog Oscar couldn’t be saved, however Charlie was revived. Years later Charlie is a grown man, working as caretaker for the Waterside Cemetery where his brother is buried. Every evening (without fail) just as the sun is about to go down and the iron gates of the cemetery are locked, Charlie retreats into the forest where he enjoys a game of catch with the spirit of a 12 year-old Sam. Meanwhile a young local woman by the name of Tess prepares for the chance of a lifetime: to sail around the world. A chance meeting between the two would change the outcome of their routines forever.
Beginning with an introduction (so to speak) by the firefighter/ paramedic who saved Charlie’s life, readers are prepared for a touching story of hope and devotion. I was drawn in from the first chapter, knowing that I would be captivated by this book.
In real life, if a teenage boy were to steal a car with the result of a loss of life, they would be condemned, jailed and ostracized. However in the case of Charlie, we follow his grief and his guilt. We see why he is the recluse that he became and why he devoted his life to the cemetery. He sacrificed a life that he could have had to hold on to his brother’s spirit. Never did I feel any animosity towards him. Instead I felt sympathy for him and quite liked his character. My impression of Tess however was that she was a bit bold and pushy for my liking, however her storyline was quite interesting and I do enjoy reading about strong independent women. She was really quite brave, too brave for that matter.
I didn’t fly through Charlie St. Cloud, like I thought I would for a book this size. Instead I took my time, which allowed for the magic to really sink in. Some books are just better enjoyed at a slow pace.
The seaside setting of Marblehead Massachusetts, sounded beautiful, as did the descriptions of the cemetery. Bed Sherwood’s writing was gripping and reminded me somewhat of Nicholas Sparks. I was able to predict the outcome of the plot (most specifically with Tess’s situation) but this didn’t take away from my enjoyment. However I did feel as if the end could be compared to a perfect gift wrapped up in a big bow.
Normally I would rather read the original edition of a novel and not one with a movie cover, however this was the version of Charlie St. Cloud that I was given. In this case, I am glad that I took the opportunity to read it because it included bonus material called “Adventures in a Cemetery of Styrofoam”, where the author recalls his experience on the set of the movie that was based on his book. I found it really interesting to learn about how Ben Sherwood prepared himself for writing Charlie’s story. He took the time to work among caretakers and grave diggers in a real cemetery, in order to gain first-hand experience of the job. Reading about his trips to the set and how humbled he was by it all made me respect him even more. Another nice thing about having the movie edition of the book is that Zac Efron is on the cover, ha. Can’t go wrong there.
I would recommend Charlie St. Cloud to those who enjoy stories about hope and miracles. This would be an ideal rainy day book.
Check back again later this week when I review and compare the Charlie St. Cloud movie for my ML’s Worth a Watch posting.