Book Review: Charlie St. Cloud by Ben Sherwood (Spoiler Free)

January 8, 2018

“Trust your heart if the seas catch fire and live by love though the stars walk backwards.” ― Ben Sherwood, The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud

Okay back to book reviews we go!

This is my first review of 2018 and it’s for the last book I read in 2017! My reason for reading The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud or just Charlie St. Cloud was a very simple one.

I had set my Goodreads goal for 50 books and I had read 49 by December 30th and I needed JUST ONE MORE. So, instead of reading Cress by Marissa Meyer after I had finished Scarlet, I decided to read a short book in order to meet my goal and it was pretty worth it.

I had heard of Charlie St. Cloud because of the film that came out in 2010, but I didn’t realize it was first a novel by Ben Sherwood until I found it in a free library. Since then it had sat on my shelf until I picked it up this past December. The synopsis for the book is as followed:

FROM GOODREADS: In a snug New England fishing village, Charlie St. Cloud tends the lawns and monuments of an ancient cemetery where his younger brother, Sam, is buried. After surviving the car accident that claimed his brother’s life, Charlie is graced with an extraordinary gift: He can see, talk to, and even play catch with Sam’s spirit. Into this magical world comes Tess Carroll, a captivating woman training for a solo sailing trip around the globe. Fate steers her boat into a treacherous storm that propels her into Charlie’s life. Their beautiful and uncommon connection leads to a race against time and a choice between death and life, between the past and the future, between holding on and letting go — and the discovery that miracles can happen if we simply open our hearts.

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Now even those first words, “In a snug New England fishing village…” sold me. I have this strange fascination with New England and all of its intricate history. Fun Fact: I’ve never actually been, but I have read my fair share about it. ANYWAYS. This book is one that I will remember. Not because it was my favourite or because it had epic romance or amazing action scenes, but because it changes your outlook on life. At least it did for me.

Charlie’s character is one that I think many people will connect with. Obviously not everyone can go play fetch with their brother’s spirit in a forest in a graveyard, but for anyone who has lost someone, his story feels familiar. And it’s not just that he lost Sam, no, he lost himself as well. Yes, he can still see his little brother, but in order to do that he sacrificed so much. That particularly was the most interesting to read for me. Charlie is such a dynamic and layered character and I think it’s rare to see a character like that. Not just a character who experienced trauma, but one that deals with it in such an obscure way.

And I think that is why I loved Tess so much. She was the one who challenged Charlie in so many ways and I liked that she maintained her own arc instead of just being another love interest in a story. I really enjoyed how Sherwood progressed her story and I think a lot of people are going to fall in love with her arc and how it intertwines with Charlie’s.

“There’s a reason for everything, you said, and though it’s a mystery to me now, I know it won’t always be so.” ― Ben Sherwood, The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud

As for Sam…poor little Sam. I mean, I knew he was going to be a ghost for most of the book, but it still hurt me to see him not growing up. I’ve read a lot of books where ghosts are present, but never one with a child and that was…rough. However, Sam and Charlie’s connection was the heart of the story; it was built on a promise and their love for eachother; and it just makes my heart swell.

Then there is the protector role that Charlie maintains in Sam’s afterlife. He feels the need to shield him from the world that he no longer lives and that can be interpreted as Charlie not wanting to believe Sam is dead, but I think it’s more of the opposite. Charlie doesn’t want Sam to know what a first kiss feels like or how the Red Sox are doing because he doesn’t want to upset Sam. But in my opinion, Sam would be okay with it. Sam knows he’s dead and he’s come to terms with it. I actually think he’s more okay with it than Charlie is or at least realizes the magnitude of their situation.

I think a lot of people who read this book will take many different things from each character and the story as a whole. I think the biggest thing I would take from Charlie St. Cloud is that when you learn to accept things in your life and stop trying change them, you can grow as a person while still maintaining the love you had for the moment you were trying to control.

Overall I give this book 4/5 stars. I loved the characters, the story, the setting, and above all else, that warm and fuzzy feeling you get at the end of it. If you are reluctant to read this because you think it’ll be too sad, I implore you to try because it has such beautiful writing. The prologue and epilogue are great and you really grasp the life of Charlie and his struggles and his triumphs. I also really recommend the film and even with the small changes, I think it was exceptionally done. Also Zac Efron was phenomenal as Charlie. I truly think this is a story that deserves to be heard.

Have you read or seen Charlie St. Cloud? Let me know what you thought!

Happy Reading!

– Haley

Author: My Thoughts are a Blog

21. Blogger, Star Wars, Marvel, and Book Enthusiast, Over-thinker, Aspiring Author who hates everything she writes, and mother to Gracie & Ghost.

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