The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud

( 620 )

Overview

The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud tells the haunting story of a young man who narrowly survives a terrible car wreck that kills his little brother. Years later, the brothers’ bond remains so strong that it transcends the normal boundaries separating life and death. Charlie St. Cloud lives in a snug New England fishing village. By day he tends the lawns and monuments of the ancient cemetery where his younger brother, Sam, is buried. Graced with an extraordinary gift after surviving the accident, he can still...
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Overview

The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud tells the haunting story of a young man who narrowly survives a terrible car wreck that kills his little brother. Years later, the brothers’ bond remains so strong that it transcends the normal boundaries separating life and death. Charlie St. Cloud lives in a snug New England fishing village. By day he tends the lawns and monuments of the ancient cemetery where his younger brother, Sam, is buried. Graced with an extraordinary gift after surviving the accident, he can still see, talk, and even play catch with Sam’s spirit. But townsfolk whisper that Charlie has never recovered from his loss.

Into his carefully ordered life comes Tess Carroll, a captivating, adventuresome woman training for a solo sailing trip around the globe. Fate steers her boat into a treacherous storm that blows her back to harbor, to a charged encounter with Charlie, and to a surprise more overwhelming than the violent sea itself. Charlie and Tess discover a beautiful and uncommon connection that leads to a race against time and a desperate choice between death and life, between the past and the future, between holding on and letting go.

Luminous, soulful, and filled with unforgettable characters, The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud is one of those rare, wise books that reveal the mysteries of the unseen world around us, gently transforming the worst pain of loss into hope, healing, and even laughter. Suspenseful and deeply moving, its startling climax reminds us that sometimes tragedies can bring about miracles if we simply open our hearts.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Ben Sherwood is an amazing writer with the rare gift of evoking genuine emotion. The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud is touching, wise, and full of hope, everything a wonderful novel should be. Read it – you’ll be glad you did.”
--Nicholas Sparks, bestselling author

The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud is one of the most magical love stories I've ever read. In his wonderfully inventive way, Ben Sherwood has written a shining affirmation of life.”
-- Sue Monk Kidd, author of The Secret Life of Bees

"Loved it, loved it, loved it!! Refreshingly romantic, dangerously good fun, hugely addictive. All too infrequently I pick up a book that is a pure pleasure to read….Intelligent, moving, and sweetly wise, Ben Sherwood is all set to find his way into the soft heart of American literature."
--Joanne Harris, author of Chocolat

"Sweet and inspirational.... [with] humor all his own."
--The Daily News (NY)

From the Hardcover edition.

The Washington Post
Fans of Sherwood's earlier novel, The Man Who Ate the 747, may enjoy this romantic fantasy of life after death and spirits who remain vigilantly by the sides of the ones they love. Sherwood is an effortless storyteller with a nice rhythm. — Susan Adams
Publishers Weekly
Not even death can keep two brothers from meeting to play ball: it sounds like a sentimental TV movie, doesn't it? Actually, Sherwood's second novel (after The Man Who Ate the 747) is warmhearted but not maudlin, exploring the bonds between the living and the dead and the lengths to which we'll go for love. A secret jaunt to a Sox game ends in tragedy when Charlie St. Cloud, who isn't old enough for a driver's license, crashes the car he pinched from a neighbor. The hearts of Charlie and his younger brother, Sam, stop, but miraculously, Charlie is resuscitated. Thirteen years later, Charlie is 28 and working as the caretaker for the Marblehead cemetery where Sam is buried; he's also spending every evening playing catch with the ghost of 12-year-old Sam, who's putting off going to heaven for the game. Charlie's world gets shaken up, though, by feisty, beautiful Tess Carroll, a sailor who had plans to be one of the first women to circumnavigate the globe solo. They have a perfect date, and sparks fly. But then news comes that her boat is lost at sea, and Charlie, whose gift of seeing spirits has grown, realizes that her fading apparition is the result of a failing effort to rescue her. Sherwood tugs at readers' heartstrings throughout the novel, and the sentimentality mostly works. Charlie's final effort to save his lady love from ghostly oblivion strains credibility, of course, but isn't that the point of a tale about love triumphant? (Mar. 2) Forecast: Glowing praise from Nicholas Sparks (he calls Sherwood's book "everything a wonderful novel should be") should help convince browsers to buy. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Two near-death experiences serve as bookends for this initially beguiling second novel about the interactions of the living, the dead, and the in-between. For 15-year-old Charlie St. Cloud and his kid brother Sam, diehard Red Sox fans, Marblehead is the perfect hometown: neighborly and only 30 minutes from Boston's Fenway Park. When Charlie decides to "borrow" a neighbor's car to catch a night game, everything works out fine until he smashes into a tractor-trailer. A paramedic resuscitates him, but can't save Sam. What to do? The devoted Charlie has promised Sam he'll always be there for him. He's able to make good on his word when Sam shows up in the cemetery. A ritual begins: every sundown for the next 13 years, Charlie and Sam meet to play ball. To keep their rendezvous, Charlie becomes the cemetery caretaker and sacrifices career opportunities, while Sam sacrifices his move to the next level of the spirit world. This could be unbearably sappy, but it's not; Sherwood grounds these curious trysts in small-town realities. Eventually a complication arrives: Tess Carroll, expert sailor, preparing for a solo round-the-world race. She runs into Charlie at the cemetery, and they both see stars. Things get serious fast. Should Charlie put Tess before Sam? How much do the living owe the dead? It's a good set-up, but Sherwood ruins it by misdirecting the reader. It turns out Tess herself may be dead. Her sloop is missing, and search-and-rescue missions are underway. Regardless, Tess and Charlie proceed to have sex in an awkward, unsettling scene that borders on necrophilia. Sherwood further fuzzes up the picture by seeming to change the rules that govern human/spirit relations in the middle ofthe game. A disappointing successor to The Man Who Ate the 747 (2000). There's a big audience out there for imaginative treatments of the afterlife (look at The Lovely Bones), provided the author keeps control of the material, which is not the case here. Film rights to Universal. Agency: William Morris
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780553383256
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 3/1/2005
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 222,265
  • Product dimensions: 5.48 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.68 (d)

Meet the Author

Ben Sherwood is the author of The Man Who Ate the 747, a national bestseller that has been translated into thirteen languages. He was an award-winning journalist with NBC and ABC News, and his writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Los Angeles Times. Educated at Harvard and Oxford, he lives with his wife in New York and Los Angeles, and is working on a new novel.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Read an Excerpt

ONE

CHARLIE ST. CLOUD WASN'T THE BEST OR BRIGHTEST BOY in Essex County, but he was surely the most promising. He was junior-class vice president, shortstop of the Marblehead Magicians, and co-captain of the debate club. With a mischievous dimple on one cheek, nose and forehead freckled from the sun, and caramel eyes hidden beneath a flop of sandy-blond hair, he was already handsome at fifteen. He was a friend to jocks and geeks and even had a girlfriend one year older at school. Yes, Charlie St. Cloud was a blessed boy, quick of mind and body, destined for good things, perhaps even a scholarship at Dartmouth, Princeton, or one of those Ivied places.

His mother, Louise, cheered his every achievement. Indeed, Charlie was both cause and cure for her own life's disappointments. Those troubles had begun the very moment he was conceived, an unwanted pregnancy that pushed the man she loved--a carpenter with good hands--right out the door. Next came Charlie's obstructed journey into the world, catching somewhere deep inside and requiring bloody surgery to be born. Soon a second son arrived from another vanished father, and the years blurred into one endless struggle. But for all her woes, Charlie erased her pain with those twinkling eyes and optimism. She had grown to depend on him as her angel, her messenger of hope, and he could do no wrong.

He grew up fast, worked hard at his books, watched out for his mom, and loved his kid brother more than anyone in the world. His name was Sam, and his father--a bail bondsman--was gone, too, barely leaving a trace except for his son's curly brown hair and some bluish bruises on Louise's face. Charlie believed he was the only true protector of his little brother, and someday, together, he knew they would make something of themselves in the world. The boys were three years apart, opposites in coloring and throwing arms, but best friends, united in their love of catching fish, climbing trees, a beagle named Oscar, and the Red Sox.

Then one day, Charlie made a disastrous decision, a mistake the police could not explain and the juvenile court did its best to overlook.

To be precise, Charlie ruined everything on Friday, September 20, 1991.

Mom was working the late shift at Penni's market on Washington Street. The boys had come home from school with mischief on their minds. They had no homework to do until Sunday night. They had already gone spying on the Flynn twins down the block. They had jumped a fence and snuck onto the property of the Czech refugee who claimed to have invented the bazooka. At sunset, they had played catch under the pine trees in their yard on Cloutman's Lane, just as they had done every night since Charlie had given Sam his first Rawlings glove for his seventh birthday. But now it was dark, and they had run out of adventures.

Sam might have settled for crashing and watching Chris Isaak's "Wicked Game" video on MTV, but Charlie had a surprise. He wanted action and had just the plan.

"How 'bout night fishing on Devereux Beach?" he asked Sam, setting his brother up perfectly.

"Boring," Sam said. "We always do that. How 'bout a movie? Terminator 2's playing at the Warwick. Nick Burridge will sneak us in the back."

"I've got a better idea."

"It's R-rated. What's better than that?"

Charlie pulled out two tickets from the pocket of his jeans jacket. Red Sox tickets. They were playing the Yankees. Boston was on a roll, and the evil Bronx Bombers had lost eleven of their last thirteen.

"No way! Where'd those come from?" Sam asked.

"I have my ways."

"How we gonna get there? Fly?"

"Don't you worry about that. Mrs. Pung is on vacation. We can borrow her wagon."

"Borrow? You don't even have a license!"

"You want to go or not?"

"What about Mom?"

"Don't worry. She'll never know."

"We can't leave Oscar. He'll freak out and mess up the house."

"He can come too."

Sure enough, Charlie, Sam, and their beagle were soon driving to Boston in Mrs. Pung's Country Squire. Without their neighbor Mrs. Pung, that is. The police report would make considerable mention of two unlicensed minors, a dog, and a white stolen vehicle with red interior. But Mrs. Pung dropped the auto-theft charges when she got back from Naples, Florida. They were good kids, she said. They only borrowed the car. They made a terrible mistake. They more than paid the price.

The drive took thirty minutes, and Charlie was especially careful on Route 1A where the Swampscott and Lynn cops patrolled. The boys listened to the pregame show on WRKO, talked about the last time they'd been to the ballpark, and counted their money, calculating they had enough for two Fenway Franks each, a Coke, and peanuts.

"This is our year," Sam said. "The Sox'll win the Series."

"They just have to break the Curse of the Bambino," Charlie said. It was the superstition of every red-blooded Boston fan: Trading Babe Ruth to the Yankees had put a hex on the Sox.

"You don't believe in that stuff, do you?"

"Think about it. The Sox haven't won the Series since 1918. The Yanks have done it twenty-two times. You do the math."

"C'mon, the Babe didn't make Bill Buckner boot that ground ball in '86." Buckner was the reviled first baseman who let an easy dribbler through his legs in the World Series, costing the Sox game six and, many swore, the championship.

"How do you know?"

"He just didn't."

"Well, I think he did."

"Did not."

"Did too."

A standoff.

"Draw?" Sam said reluctantly.

"Okay, draw."

And with that, the argument was done but not over. A draw was their way of stopping a dispute that would have gone on all night. It would be dutifully recorded in Charlie & Sam's Book of Big & Small Arguments. And after the proper procedural motions, it could be started up again at any point. Ignoring their age difference, Sam threw himself into these arguments with passion, and the two brothers often spent hours in the Abbot public library on Pleasant Street gathering ammunition for their battles.

Now, with its red bricks and shimmering glass, Boston was waiting across the Charles River. They turned down Brookline Avenue and could see the hazy lights of the stadium. Biting at the chilly air, Oscar leaned out the window. With his red and white coat, he was the perfect mascot for the adventure.

In the parking lot, the boys stuffed their beagle into a backpack and took off for the bleachers. As they reached their seats a thundering cheer rose for Roger Clemens, #21, throwing his first rocket. The boys laughingly bowed left and right to acknowledge the crowd. A stadium guard would later testify he saw the two unaccompanied youths, wearing caps and carrying mitts, but did not stop or question them.

Their seats were in right field, directly behind a guy who must have been seven feet tall, but it didn't matter. It could have poured, it could have snowed. Nothing could ruin the spectacle of the Green Monster in left field, the grass, the chalk lines, and the infield dirt. They were right near Pesky's pole, just 302 feet from home plate, easy distance for catching a home run.

One of their heroes, Wade Boggs, sat out the game with a sore right shoulder, but Jody Reed took his place and delivered, with a run-scoring double and homer off the left-field foul pole. The boys ate two hot dogs each with extra relish. Oscar got some Cracker Jacks from a woman in the next row. A big bearded guy next to her gave them a few sips of Budweiser. Charlie was careful not to drink too much. Still, the police report would mention traces of alcohol in their blood. There was enough to raise questions, but not enough for answers.

Clemens shut out the Yankees, allowing only three hits and striking out seven. The crowd cheered, and Oscar howled. With the final out and a 2-0 victory in the books, the fans scattered but the boys stayed in their seats, replaying the highlights. The team was now miraculously within striking distance of Toronto. Instead of falling apart in September, always the cruelest month, the Sox were surging.

"Someday, we'll have season tickets," Charlie said. "Right there behind home plate in the first row."

"The bleachers are good enough for me," Sam said, eating the last of the peanuts. "I don't care about the seats. As long as it's you and me, that's what makes baseball great."

"We'll always play ball, Sam. No matter what."

The stadium lights began shutting down. The ground crew had just about spread the tarp over the infield.

"We better go," Charlie said.

The boys headed for the parking lot, where the white station wagon was all alone. The drive home was much faster. Springsteen was born to run on the radio. There was hardly any traffic. The trip would take half an hour. They would be home by 10:30. Mom wouldn't be back until midnight. Mrs. Pung in Florida would never know.

Just past the Wonderland Greyhound Park, Sam pulled a cassette from his pocket and stuck it in the radio. It was U2's The Joshua Tree. Charlie sang along to "With or Without You."

"Bono rocks," Sam said.

"The Boss."

"Bono."

"The Boss."

"Draw?"

"Draw."

They drove silently for a while, then Sam asked out of the blue, "How long will it be until I'm grown up?"

"You already are," Charlie answered.

"I'm serious. When do I stop being a kid?"

"Officially," Charlie said, "when you're twelve, you're a man and you can do what you want."

"Says who?"

"Says me."

"I'm a man and I can do what I want," Sam said, enjoying the sound of it. A great moon floated on the Saugus River, and he rolled down the window. "Look," he said. "It's bigger tonight. Must be closer to us."

"Nah," Charlie said. "It's always the same distance. That's just an optical illusion."

"What's that?"

"When your eye plays tricks on you."

"What kind of trick?"

"Wherever it is in the sky," Charlie said, "it's always 225,745 miles away." He did the math. Numbers were easy for him. "At our speed right now, it would take about 170 days to get there."

"Mom wouldn't be too crazy about that," Sam said.

"And Mrs. Pung wouldn't be happy about the mileage."

The boys laughed. Then Sam said, "It's no optical delusion. It's closer tonight. I swear. Look, you can see a halo just like an angel's."

"No such thing," Charlie said. "That's a refraction of the ice crystals in the upper atmosphere."

"Gee, I thought it was a refraction of the ice crystals on your butt!" Sam howled with laughter, and Oscar barked in a series of sharp, distinctive woofs.

Charlie checked his mirrors, aimed the car straight ahead, and took one quick glance to the right. The moon was flickering between the iron railings of the drawbridge, keeping pace with them as they sped home. It sure seemed closer than ever tonight. He turned his head for a better look. He thought the bridge was empty so he pushed down on the gas.

Of all his reckless decisions that night, surely this was the worst. Charlie raced the moon, and in the final second before the end, he saw the perfect image of happiness. Sam's innocent face looking up at him. The curl dangling over his forehead. The Rawlings glove on his hand. And then there was only fracturing glass, metal, and blackness.

TWO

WITH A COLD WIND RUSHING THROUGH THE SPANS IN THE General Edwards bridge, Florio Ferrente snatched the jaws of life from the back of his rig. The serrated blades weighed forty-one pounds and could chop through steel, but he wielded them like kitchen scissors in his hulking hands.

Florio kneeled for a moment and offered the fireman's prayer that came to his lips every time he went to work.

Give me courage.

Give me strength.

Please, Lord, through it all, be at my side.

Then came the blur of action. One thousand--one million--calculations and considerations. All instantaneous. He evaluated the spilled gasoline and the chance of a spark or explosion. He assessed the fastest way into the wreck--through the windshield, hood, or doors? And he did the math on how much time he had for this rescue. Time, precious time.

Florio ran past the jagged skid marks and jackknifed tractor trailer. He didn't bother to stop for the truck driver leaning against the center divider. The man's head was in his hands. He reeked of beer and blood. It was one of the rules of rescue: Heaven protects fools and drunks. The guy would be fine.

The instant license-plate check on the white wagon had produced the first bit of information. The Ford belonged to Mrs. Norman Pung of Cloutman's Lane, Marblehead. Age: 73. Vision-impaired. Perhaps the first clue.

The vehicle was crunched and tossed upside down, like a cockroach, its front end smashed into the railing of the bridge. He could tell from the trail of glass and metal that the car had rolled at least twice. Florio dropped to the pavement and peered through a squashed window.

There was no noise inside. No sound of breathing or moaning. Blood trickled through cracks in the metal.

With swift movements, he jammed a power spreader into the narrow space between the hood and door. A quick flick of his thumb and the hydraulics surged. The car frame groaned as the machine drove the metal apart, clearing a narrow crawl space. Florio pushed his head inside the wreck and saw two boys, upside down, unconscious, tangled in seat belts. Their twisted arms were wrapped around each other in a bloody embrace. No sign of Mrs. Pung.

"Two traumatic arrests up front," he shouted to his partner, Trish Harrington. "A dog in back. Scoop and run. Priority One."

He slid out of the wreckage and shoved the Hurst tool into the hinges of the door. Another jab of the thumb, and the blades took two powerful bites. Florio pulled the door right off and threw it across the pavement.

"Gimme two C-spine collars," he yelled. "And two short backboards."

He crawled back inside. "Can you hear me?" he said to the smaller boy. "Talk to me." No response. No movement. The kid's face and neck were wet with blood, eyes and lips swollen.

It was another rule of rescue: If the child is quiet, be scared.

Florio wrapped a brace around the boy's neck, strapped on a backboard, then cut the seat belt with his knife. He lowered the patient gently and pulled him out onto the pavement. He was slight, around eighty pounds, and, incredibly, was still wearing a Rawlings baseball glove on one hand.

"Pupils are blown," Florio said, checking with his flashlight. "He's posturing. Blood from the ears." Bad signs, all. Time to go after the other victim. He climbed back inside. The teenager was pinned beneath the steering column. Florio wedged another spreader into the foot space and hit the hydraulics. As the metal separated, he could see one open fracture of the femur. And he smelled the awful brew of radiator fluid and blood.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Reading Group Guide

Ben Sherwood captured our imaginations with his magical debut novel, The Man Who Ate the 747. Now he brings us the unforgettable story of Charlie St. Cloud, who survived a tragic accident that would make him see the world in a whole new way. Though his little brother Sam did not live through the horrific collision on that moonlit night, Charlie has discovered a miraculous way to keep him close. Then Charlie meets Tess, a woman so beautiful and fearless that she makes him yearn to embrace the land of the living once again. But she doesn't realize she's in terrible jeopardy, facing impossible dangers that only Charlie can help her defeat. With a love that transcends everything you may have believed about life and death, Charlie embarks on a spellbinding adventure to save her, and revive his own heart as well.

The questions, discussion topics, and author biography that follow are intended to enhance your reading of Ben Sherwood's The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud. We hope they will enrich your experience of this enchanting novel.

1. The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud opens with fireman Florio Ferrente's recounting of several lifesaving miracles. What role does Florio believe Divine intervention plays in his rescue work? Do you believe in miracles?

2. The novel's title and epigraphs capture the notion that conventional definitions of life and death are tremendously limited, and many of the characters find themselves "in between" these realms, literally or figuratively. Which of the book's characters do you perceive as being most alive—in any sense of the word?

3. What does the sustained baseball ritual at sunset between Charlie andSam tell us about the power of love, and fear?

4. Discuss the significance of the events leading up to the car accident. Is it possible to explain the true "cause" of the crash? How do these ideas affect Charlie in the years after that night?

5. Compare the various spirits Charlie observes while he's on the job in the cemetery. What seems to determine their demeanor?

6. In what ways do Tess and Charlie bear similar emotional scars when they meet? Why does Tess crave self-sufficiency at all costs? What motivates her to set off on such a daunting around-the-world mission?

7. Ben Sherwood worked as a television news producer for many years. Do you detect any journalistic influences in the novel, or do you think Sherwood's fiction reflects the opposite of a reporter's point of view?

8. How does Charlie's experience and special gift compare with your own beliefs about the afterlife?

9. In each character's storyline, what distinctions are made between accident and fate, between chance and destiny? What ultimately saves Tess? From what was Charlie saved?

10. The novel contains several bullfighting references, especially in the name of Tess's boat, Querencia (the spot in the ring where the bull feels protected and secure). Why is the matador analogy an apt one for Charlie and Tess? What defines your querencia?

11. One of the main characters in Ben Sherwood's previous novel, The Man Who Ate the 747, goes to incredible lengths in a case of unrequited love, while the novel's protagonist finds his life transformed when he unexpectedly meets his soul mate. In what way does The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud enhance and deepen these relationship ideas?

12. Although this novel is given a realistic setting and is populated by ordinary men and women, the plot is quite extraordinary. Why did the author choose such an idyllic small-town backdrop?

13. What is the effect of ending the novel with a point of view other than Charlie's? Describe Florio's role and approach as narrator. Does Florio's function as storyteller have much in common with his earthly vocation?

14. If you were able to visit a lost loved one or friend in the same way Charlie connects with Sam, whom would you like to see? In the novel, spirits take on an idealized appearance. How do you think your loved one would appear to you? How would you spend your time together?

15. Sherwood dedicated to this novel to his new wife and to the memory of his father. In what ways are the ideas of love and loss related?

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 620 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 628 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 27, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Jennifer Wardrip - Personal Read

    When Charlie St. Cloud was fifteen years old, a tragic accident that involved "borrowing" a neighbor's car, a trip to a ballgame, and an encounter with a semi-trailer on a bridge led to the death of his three years younger brother, Sam. In fact, Charlie was technically "dead" for minutes before his heart started beating again--no one knows for sure, but this might be why Charlie lives the life he does. <BR/><BR/>For Charlie, now twenty-eight, taking care of Waterside Cemetery is more than just a job. He's able to help the inhabitants of Marblehead through their grief, care for the eighty-acres of land, live in the caretaker's cottage, and play baseball every night at sunset with his brother, Sam. Yes, the one who has been dead for thirteen years. Somehow, Sam and Charlie have a bond that has defied death, and the promise Charlie made to his younger brother that long ago night--"I'll never leave you"--has held, even though one of them is no longer alive. <BR/><BR/>Then one day Charlie meets Tess Carroll, a woman who builds sails and is planning for an around-the-world solo boat trip, at her father's grave. Immediately Charlie and Tess spark a connection, and quite soon realize that they may have found their soul mates. <BR/><BR/>Unfortunately, not everything is at it seems. It's actually hard to tell a lot about this book with giving away the spoilers that would ruin your enjoyment. Suffice it to say that THE DEATH AND LIFE OF CHARLIE ST. CLOUD is unlike any book I've ever read before--it's a character study of human nature, of brotherly love, of the ingrained desire in most people to help their fellow man. It's about miracles--sometimes the kind that half the world notices, and sometimes only the kind that an individual can discover on their own. <BR/><BR/>You won't go wrong with this uplifting, inspirational tale. I'll forever be glad I read this book, which reminds me in some ways of THE FIVE PEOPLE YOU MEET IN HEAVEN. Two great books, lots of miracles, tons of love.

    10 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted July 27, 2010

    Great, Meaningful book.

    I loved this book - read it in one day. It is a pretty short book, but it is sweet and makes you grateful for the life you have. I recommend everyone to read it. I can't wait to see the movie!

    9 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 20, 2010

    Touching Story!

    I downloaded this book when I saw the movie was going to come out. Still haven't seen the film, but the book is wonderful. Sherwood expresses the bond between those who have left us and we who remain behind with such beauty that at times it took my breath away. I put my nook down several times and just digested the idea of what I'd read, and was truly touched. The ending is especially poignant. A great story about moving on and letting go. Wonderful read - would be great for book club discussions.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 14, 2009

    I loved this book..........

    I read this book about 5 years ago, and I have bought and given away at least 20 copies of it. I give this book to everyone I know who has lost someone. It is such a hopeful book about life and the people who love you.
    I read all the time and this book is in my top ten books that I have ever read.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 15, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Unique love story

    cute love story, but way too predictable. The twist was obvious and so was the ending. the book is a simpler version of something that Nicholas Sparks would write.

    2 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 2, 2005

    Fabulous Story! Highly Recommended

    I couldn't put this book down. I read it in two days. It would have been one but my eyes were burning from crying! Absolutly moving, especially if you have ever lost a loved one and wondered if that butterfly flying circles around you was their way of showing that they are okay. Great, great book!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 17, 2005

    Couldn't put it down

    After finishing this story it is now on the list of my all time favorites. It was a unique story; not the kind that you find at the super market. The first page grabbed hold of my attention and didn't let go till the last word. This is a fantastic story that tells the strong bond that connects family together through the hard times. I cried and laughed and then cried and laughed some more. I loved this book.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 2, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Loved the book!

    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 boats 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 an letting go -- and the discovery that miracles can happen if we simply open our hearts.

    Charlie suffers the lose of his younger brother, separation from his mother, and a dead-end job all for the reason of keeping a promise. A promise he made to Sam, his brother, when they both died in a car wreak. Yet, Charlie was brought back to life by a paramedic that fateful night for a second chance at life. A new life he has no idea what to do with. Since he already crossed over once, he's know graced with the ability to see the newly dead. For thirteen years, he remains a fixture in Marblehead, Massachusetts by working at the Waterside cemetery. "Now twenty-eight, Charlie had spent his adult years looking after the dead and the living of Waterside. He had sacrificed greatly to keep his word to Sam. He had given up on big dreams . . . " (pg. 47) But, that all changes when the appealing minor celebrity in town, Tess Carroll, walks into his life. After a sweet love affair blooms between the two, tragedy strikes in a why that could tear them apart forever. Yet, Charlie is determined to not give up on Tess, even if that means breaking his promise with Sam.

    You may be one of those people that saw the tear-jerking trailer on TV about the movie Charlie St. Cloud and thought . . . lame, but you'd be wrong. I actually watched the movie on the big screen first (loved it!) and went out and grabbed the book second. Books are always better than their movie adaptions and this is one that doesn't falter on that fact. I enjoyed the sweet connection between Tess and Charlie and the book just extends on their relationship. I have the say, the brother connection was adorable in the movie, but Sam's character in the book gets more evolved and Tess gets a lot more interaction as well. Overall, I kept wanting more from everyone when I finished The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud. It was really enjoyable, sweet, and had just the perfect touch of silliness to make this a great summer read.

    Likes: I wish my town had a Bella Hooper "The Woman Who Listens".

    Dislikes: This book points out the fact that too many good people die a little when they lose someone they love. Which is a sad, but true fact.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 13, 2011

    read before seeing the movie!!

    Unfortunately,I saw the movie before I got the book and they are vastly different.I love the movies opening tie in to the sailing. Where as in the book Charlie is an entirely different person. I thimk it would have been much better to read the book first. But even at that I probably would have liked the movie better.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 16, 2010

    best book ever!!!!

    this book was great! it had a great plot and always keeps you on your feet. Im not always a big reader but i couldnt put this one down. I have to say that this is probably my favorite book. Charlie goes through a total change after meeting Tess Caroll. the beginnning is really sad and so is the end but this is a great book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 18, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Excellent Read

    This was a great book. I have been into reading books whenever I see a movie has come out so I can compare. I choose to read the book first now. This was a very touch story. Definitely makes you grateful for each day you have and cherish the people in it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 7, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Good, quick read

    I really enjoyed this book. I read it in a weekend at the lake. The only thing that threw me a little was the sailing lingo, but I figured it out.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 5, 2010

    Brain Candy

    I was drawn to this book because of the summary. It turned out to be not so much about Charlie and his brother, but of a totally different matter.

    It was okay, and I would consider it a simple, light read. Something to take along for a car ride or while waiting for an apppointment. Definitely nothing hard about the characters, the dialogue or the plot.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 1, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    An Atmospheric & Touching Love Story

    The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud is a fiction novel that attempts to answer the question, "What happens when you die?" Charlie St. Cloud was in a tragic accident near Marblehead, MA as a teen with his kid brother, Sam. Charlie barely survives, but Sam doesn't make it. The brothers had made a pact to stay together, no matter what, so as an adult, Charlie lives in a cottage near the woods. He meets his brother every day at sundown to play catch in the forest. But one day, Charlie meets a young sail-maker named Tess. They quickly begin to fall in love. Tess has been planning a trip to sail around the world. Charlie has to make the ultimate decision between his brother and pursuing the woman that he loves. The setting is beautiful and atmospheric, the magical realism of the spirits crossing over for a rest stop between this life and the afterlife is poignant and the writing is quite good. I allowed myself to willingly suspend my disbelief and my eyes were misty at the conclusion to this novel.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 13, 2010

    Lasting promise

    wonderful book. Drives home that old saying of last thing you say to someone could be the last you say. It reminded me that theres only one life for each of us and make an adventure for yourself. I plan on giving a copy to everyone I know.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 23, 2007

    Do You Believe in Miracles?

    When Charlie St. Cloud was fifteen years old, a tragic accident that involved 'borrowing' a neighbor's car, a trip to a ballgame, and an encounter with a semi-trailer on a bridge led to the death of his three years younger brother, Sam. In fact, Charlie was technically 'dead' for minutes before his heart started beating again--no one knows for sure, but this might be why Charlie lives the life he does. For Charlie, now twenty-eight, taking care of Waterside Cemetery is more than just a job. He's able to help the inhabitants of Marblehead through their grief, care for the eighty-acres of land, live in the caretaker's cottage, and play baseball every night at sunset with his brother, Sam. Yes, the one who has been dead for thirteen years. Somehow, Sam and Charlie have a bond that has defied death, and the promise Charlie made to his younger brother that long ago night--'I'll never leave you'--has held, even though one of them is no longer alive. Then one day Charlie meets Tess Carroll, a woman who builds sails and is planning for an around-the-world solo boat trip, at her father's grave. Immediately Charlie and Tess spark a connection, and quite soon realize that they may have found their soul mates. Unfortunately, not everything is at it seems. It's actually hard to tell a lot about this book with giving away the spoilers that would ruin your enjoyment. Suffice it to say that THE DEATH AND LIFE OF CHARLIE ST. CLOUD is unlike any book I've ever read before--it's a character study of human nature, of brotherly love, of the ingrained desire in most people to help their fellow man. It's about miracles--sometimes the kind that half the world notices, and sometimes only the kind that an individual can discover on their own. You won't go wrong with this uplifting, inspirational tale. I'll forever be glad I read this book, which reminds me in some ways of THE FIVE PEOPLE YOU MEET IN HEAVEN. Two great books, lots of miracles, tons of love.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 25, 2007

    I'LL BE BACK

    Charlie, must get back to reality and let the past rest. It was a tragic accident that caused sam's death but charlie must live his life to the fullest. All charlie should have is memories of the good times he and sam had and how much they had in common, especially the love for the boston red soxs.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 20, 2007

    I read alot of books

    This is one of the greatest books I have ever read, I just bought my 20th copy to give to a friend, whenever anyone I know loses someone that they loved, I give them a copy of this book... It is one of my favorite all time books. It is warm and funny and charming. The characters are so well defined. I cannot say enough great things about this book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 10, 2005

    Easy Read, Great Read.

    We were in Germany for 10 days when I found The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud on a table outside our guest house room apartment thing. It was the only book there in English and I snatched it immediatly. But I had to finish it before we left the next day, so i kicked it into overdrive. The best book I've read since Speak! It had great twists and very emotional. Read this book, and you will believe in miracles.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 18, 2014

    My Heart Is Broken

    I have just started the novel, but I have seen the movie about a million times. I mean Zac Efron! And I don't know whether or not I really want to embark on this journey or not. I usually read the books first (Divergent, Mortal Instruments, TFIOS) but I hadn't even known there was a book until about my millionth time watching the movie (tonight) when I saw *Based on the Novel "The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud" by Ben Sherwood* I don't know whether to cry or scream. The movie always makes me cry and I never cry, but I have a little brother that means the world to me and one of my worse fears is losing him so every time Sam dies it just destroys me on screen, but being an avid reader I know that the book will hurt me more. I just don't know if I am ready for another Allegiant or The Fault In Our Stars moment. I mean the TFIOS movie barely came out a month ago and that didn't make me cry, but I cried like a baby while reading it. I just don't know if I can deal with this. Help?

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