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April 04, 2016

Veronika Decides to Die

VeronikaVeronika Decides to Die

By: Paulo Coelho

In my opinion, author Paulo Coelho is one of the most impactful, creative, and thoughtful authors currently writing today. Many people are familiar with his story The Alchemist but Coelho has a long history of writing stores that mix religion, philosophy, and parables to weave seemingly simple, yet deeply profound, stories.

In Coelho’s book Veronika Decides to Die, the main character Veronika leads a life typical of any 24 year old young woman – she is gainfully employed, is young and beautiful, and maintains strong and healthy relationships with friends and family. Deep in her heart, however, she suffers from some malaise that keeps her from truly being happy and experiencing life. One night, she intentionally overdoses on sleeping pills and wakes up in a mental hospital, being told that her attempt was not successful, but it put too much strain on her heart, and she only has days to live.

Faced with this fact, Veronika finds herself emerging from the fog that has kept her from enjoying her life. Veronika quietly rebels against life in Villete, the hospital, where she believes her life will end. Veronika finds herself in music, returning to her passion of playing piano; she discovers art; friendships blossom with people who are wildly passionate and imaginative; and she meets Eduard, another patient, who makes her yearn for more time on this earth.

Veronika Decides to Die is subtitled as a “Novel of Redemption”, and this motif is present throughout the whole story. As Veronika realizes how much she wants to live, she also deals with the reality of her life being limited, and her quest for redeeming her life. Coelho’s central question of “why do people go on when life seems unfair and fate indifferent?” is answered simply and beautifully by the unique characters and their passions in this story, and encourages readers to consider their own life’s redemption.

Review By: Jess Diehl