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Main page » Fiction literature » The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud

The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud


by Ben Sherwood

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?

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Tags: Sherwood, lengths, living, bonds, which, Death, Cloud, Charlie