Monday, 23 November 2015

Book Review: Veronika Decides To Die - Paulo Coelho

"Certain people, in their eagerness to construct a world which no external threat can penetrate, build exaggeratedly high defences against the outside world, against new people, new places, different experiences, and leave their inner world stripped bare."

When I first started reading this book, I knew I had to write a review on it because I was truly mesmerised by the content and how beautifully it was written. But halfway towards the end, I realised that the story has gotten way too deep.. 

"Basically, everything that happens in our life is our fault and ours alone. A lot of people go through the same difficulties we went through, and they react completely differently. We looked for the easiest way out: a separate reality."

Let me just leave that there. I would have cited another longer paragraph that's more relevant and thought provoking, but it really honestly is too long and would just defeat the purpose of getting you to pick up the book. But here's a hint though: that certain page certainly has blown my mind and left me in an existential crisis so severe that I was found stoning for a good few minutes.

The story basically revolves around Veronika, who has everything she could wish for - young and pretty, with plenty of attractive boyfriends, a steady job, a loving family. Yet, Veronika is not happy and one winter's morning she takes an overdose of sleeping pills, only to wake up some time later in the local hospital. There she is told that although she is alive, her heart is now irreparably damaged and she only has a few days to live. 

This story follows her through these intense days as she starts to question all her ideas about life. Soon she comes to realise that every second of existence is a choice we all make between living and dying. This is a moving and uplifting song to life, one that reminds us that every moment in our lives is special and precious.

Back when this story was set in - illnesses such as depression, schizophrenia, even panic attacks - were immediately regarded as "mental'. And apparently, being different is equal to being mad. What made me more intrigued about this story is that it is based on experience - the author was once admitted to a mental hospital himself.

The reason why Veronika tried to kill herself was simply because she was tired of living, a reason we can all relate; and during her stay in the hospital she met other "mad" people - Coelho dived into their backstories as well, making the whole story more interesting than it already is.

The ending was unpredictable, with a twist that I didn't even realise would actually happen.

I really enjoyed reading this book, even though I'm not a fan of anything that's too deep. I am definitely going to read all of Coelho's works from now on.