978-0-553-38325-6 / 0553383256

The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud: A Novel

by Sherwood, Ben




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About the book:

The eponymous hero of The Death and Life of Charlie St Cloud is a good boy; an American teenager who works hard at school, is good at sport and loves his mum and his little brother Sam. And then one terrible day, tragically, he finds himself responsible for Sam's death. Charlie dies too for a brief moment but is brought back to life by the skill of a paramedic. From that moment on, Charlie makes a sacrificial decision to live his life in the past. Until that is, he meets tough but beautiful yachtswoman Tess and he has to rethink life and death.

Ben Sherwood's novel is an unusual love story set against a background of bereavement and grief. Sherwood is a former TV news producer and journalist so not surprisingly this, his second novel, is perfectly well written, has attractive characters and a compelling story line. Yet, disappointingly, it feels one-dimensional, wholly predictable and ultimately, unsatisfying.

Rights to the film version were sold even before The Death and Life of Charlie St Cloud was published and perhaps herein lies the answer. It is easy to visualise on celluloid: a feel-good, light romance with equal measure of tears and smiles, not too demanding. Tess could have been written for Julia Roberts.

Maybe it wasn't written as a film script, but what's missing is what could have made this a great book. After all, the central theme affects us all: what happens after death and, perhaps far more importantly, what happens to the living, left behind to mourn and cope? If you're looking for meaningful insights and serious answers, this is sadly not the place to find them. --Carey Green

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