Book Review: The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud

The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud
Narrated By: Richard Poe
Format: Audiobook
Published By: Recorded Books
Publication Date: November 2010
Audio Length: 7 hours, 36 minutes
Buy it at Amazon or IndieBound
Source: Library
Audience: Adult

I was first intrigued by this story when I saw the previews for the film that came out awhile back. Often when a movie catches my interest and I know that there is a book out there, I opt to wait to see the film until I have had time to read the book. Books are almost always better than the movie version. I still haven't watched the movie, but I am a little nervous about Zac Efron trying to pull off the role of Charlie. I am assuming that major changes happened in the script considering that Charlie is supposed to be in his late 20's in the book and Efron looks barely legal.

I went into this read not knowing very much other than there would be death and sailing involved. I wasn't prepared for this read to turn out to be entrenched in the paranormal. I loved that Charlie had the gift to see the spirits of the dead and that he spent his life trying to help them crossover. Nobody knows what truly happens when one dies, but I like to think that Charlie's story has it right. Death is something hopeful and not the end of everything. Spirits have the ability to watch over their loved ones and wait until they can greet them in the next realm. This book also reminded me of how important it is to live life to the fullest every day.

At the heart of this novel is love. Everything Charlie does and experiences is out of love - familial love, romantic love, and love of his hometown. It is interesting to watch him struggle when these different forms of love begin to compete against one another and Charlie has to make some difficult decisions. The relationship between Charlie and Sam tugs at your heart and I have to admit I shed quite a few tears through the course of this one. I just wanted the best for Charlie and Sam; their relationship was what made this such a good read. I loved seeing that their bond as brothers could transcend anything - even death. This novel is a achingly beautiful read.

As far as an audiobook goes, this one took me a little while to settle into. Richard Poe did an excellent job as the narrator, but his voice was so deep and rich that it was unsettling at times. I suppose that is because the previous audiobooks I had listened to had all been narrated by women. Once I got used to Poe's cadence, I was able to relax and immerse myself into the journey of this story. I would highly recommend this version of the story.

One Last Gripe: I figured out what was going on with Tess pretty easily. I like books that make me work for things a bit more.

My Favorite Thing About This Book: I loved the setting of this one. Sherwood does a beautiful job of putting the reader into the moment. I now have another location to add to my "To Visit" list.

First Sentence: I believe in miracles.

Favorite Character: Sam

Least Favorite Character: I didn't have one in this read.

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.