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review 2014-09-24 04:08
Not as good as the Zac Efron movie...
The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud - Ben Sherwood

Don't hate me for this, dear readers, but in this case I have to say - the Zac Efron movie was better than this book. I know, I know! It's almost sacrilege. But, sadly, true. I can promise it doesn't happen often.

Charlie and Sam St. Cloud are the closest of brothers, and when Sam dies in a tragic car accident their bond transcends the here and now to include the inbetween. Due to a promise made just before Charlie was shocked back to life, Sam now hangs between the present and the afterlife. Charlie is also stuck. Since he made his promise to Sam, Sam appears to him every night at sunset in the cemetery where he is buried and Charlie now lives as caretaker. They play catch, they swing, they swim in the river. Neither brother has yet been capable of moving on so they are stuck in the inbetween. Enter Tess Carroll, a sailor who makes Charlie question whether this is really what he wants.

Overall, the story premise was good. And this is why I liked one and not the other. The author had a good idea. Unfortunately, he butchered it with his writing. I'm not sure if it's because I already knew the outcome, but I just wasn't really interested while I was reading. I found there to be a lot of 'telling' as opposed to 'showing' and that a lot of the time I wasn't reading about things that were happening, but instead things about the characters. I was rather bored and waiting for something to happen.

I couldn't understand how and why Charlie and Tess fell in love, it felt a bit superficial to read and I just didn't believe in it. As characters they both seemed a bit wooden and lacking in actual depth. The author just told me stuff about them but didn't let me see these things in action. I just couldn't stay interested because even though there was a story, it felt like nothing was happening. I hoped this book would make me feel something - but I didn't feel anything. I didn't hate it, didn't love it, just mildly tolerated it. And it shouldn't have taken long to read as it was only 269 pages but it took longer than usual for a book this size, reflecting my lack of interest.

I wanted to like it, I did. Based on the movie I thought I was in for a good read but in the end its just another book to put on my shelf and forget about it. It has been a few years since I saw the movie, so it will be interesting to watch it again now and see if I still like it as much as I did back then. Although I'm sure the presence of Zac Efron helps!

This review is also posted at Crash My Book Party. More reviews there!

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review 2013-11-24 01:19
Moving, magical and haunting-a great story
Death Life of Charlie St. Cloud - Ben Sherwood

Opening Line:"Charlie St. Cloud wasn't the best or brightest boy in Essex County, but he was surely the most promising"

I read this a few years ago but after recently seeing the movie I was reminded of how much I’d liked this story and decided I had to revisit Charlie St Cloud and his little brother Sam. Even though I knew the big reveal this time through I was still able to immerse myself completely in this magical, moving journey from death back to life.

With a story and writing style reminiscent of Nicholas Sparks this is an easy, beautiful and somewhat tear-jerking read that I would recommend to fans of his. There is of course a touching love story here but to me this was more about brothers, letting go of the past and embracing life.
Sherwood also manages to also bring the seaside town of Marblehead Massachusetts to life with quaint and intriguing secondary characters and a unique yachting theme. There were times here when I could actually smell the sea breeze, feel the salt spray on my face and really see his descriptions of clouds and setting suns. So much so that despite the movie being filmed some 50 miles from my (Canadian) back yard I still had the urge to visit New England. I think what I liked most here though was Sherwood’s comforting take on the afterlife; giving us all hope that our departed are with us, all around us and waiting for us.

As a teenager Charlie St. Cloud died in a car accident, brought back after a few minutes by the paramedics his younger brother Sam wasn’t to be so lucky. During those brief moments before Charlie was returned to life he made a promise to his brother that he would never leave him, and he never has. Now 13 years later Charlie is working in a cemetery, he’s still full of guilt over the accident however by some twist of fate he can now see the dead walking amongst the tombstones and every night at sunset he meets Sam in a secret grove where they play baseball together in a Field Of Dreams sort of way. Charlie’s never missed a single sunset with the fear that his brother would fade away if he did, in this way though neither of them has been able to move on. The cemetery almost becomes a character of its own here, no longer feeling like a creepy, sad place but one of magic and adventure.
Tess Carol is about to embark on a solo sailing trip around the world so meeting someone like Charlie is definitely not in her plans. Yet despite his odd habit of disappearing at sunset she can’t help but fall in love, these days he seems to be the only one who really “sees” her. When Tess’s boat is lost in a storm Charlie is faced with the ultimate choice between death and life. In joining the search party he chooses love and a future full of possibilities yet in doing so he’ll also break his promise and risk losing his brother forever.
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review 2012-08-18 00:00
Charlie St. Cloud: A Novel
Charlie St. Cloud - Ben Sherwood

I liked it. It was thoughtful, flowed well, and reflected on the love between two brothers even after a horrific accident. I watched the movie first, and thought that both were well done.
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review 2012-04-11 00:00
Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud
The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud - Ben Sherwood This is a wonderful, cute and sad story. And that's why I loved it. Now it's time to watch the movie.
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review 2012-03-06 06:51
Charlie St. Cloud: A Novel
Charlie St. Cloud - Ben Sherwood I thought the movie was quite sweet but I enjoyed the book even more. Charlie St. Cloud is about family ties and the promise that two brother's make to stay together forever, no matter what.... A tragically sweet story that proves that love can conquer all.
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