One of my friends suggested that I read ‘Veronica decides to die’ as it’s one of the best works of Paulo Coelho. Otherwise it probably would have taken me some time to get to this one. Maybe I didn’t want to read it because of the title.
Nothing against ‘Veronica’s decision to die’, the book just failed to grab my attention initially. And the story turned out almost exactly how I guessed it. (No one died despite deciding to do just that!)
‘Veronica Decides To Die By Paulo Coelho’ ~~ Synopsis:
Veronica, a 24-year old woman one day decides to end her life as she feels life’s too ‘boring’ and not worth continuing. She decides that the drug over-dose is the best possible way to end her life. But instead of dying, she wakes up in a mental institution, known as Villete.
(This section still confuses me. I mean, why anyone would admit a person, who tried to end her life, in a mental institution? Aren’t you supposed to take someone in such a situation first to the hospital meant for ‘normal & sane’ people?)
Anyways, let’s continue…
Veronica soon realizes that there’s no way out of the institution as no one’s ready to believe she’s not insane. She must be, after all she tried to take her life.
“In a world where everyone struggles to survive whatever the cost, how could one judge those people who decide to die.” — Paulo Coelho (Book: Veronica Decides to Die)
Doctors inform her that she has only a week to live. Veronica resents having so little time to live for a while. However, she soon starts seeing the news as a blessing in disguise, as her desire to end her life returns.
Veronica’s eager to end her life before the end of the week as she doesn’t want to die a painful death. In her search of some drugs to achieve her goal, she befriends an inmate named Zedka.
Zedka is receiving treatment for depression. After realizing that she’s still in love with her ex, Zedka goes into depression and lands in Villete.
Then there’s another inmate, Mary, a lawyer, who enrolled herself in Villete, after experiencing sudden panic attacks. She continues to live in Villete despite the fact that there’s no need. Mary fears going back to the world of normal people and facing ridicule due to her illness.
Veronica finds that some patients stay in Villete even after the completion of their treatment. These people see madness as an opportunity to live and behave as per their wishes. Veronica also meets Eduard, a schizophrenic artist. Eduard falls in love with Veronica and feels inspired to start living his life once again.
Veronica discovers, parts of her personality, she has hidden over the years to become nice and non-threatening entity. She realizes that in the process, she lost herself and her dream to become a pianist and that probably resulted in her desire to end her life.
“People never learn anything by being told, they have to find out for themselves.” ~~ Paulo Coelho (Book: Veronica Decides to Die)
Then there’s Dr Igor, who wants to find a cure for madness. He lies to Veronica that she’s going to die within a week to see if the news will inspire her to live.
Dr Igor’s character I find the most intriguing of all as he’s someone non-judgmental, understanding and the most philosophical character in the story.
In the end, Veronica learns to value her life. She finally understands and accepts that the life lived pleasing everyone around, all the time, is useless. First, pleasing everyone isn’t possible!
Second, the ‘disease to please’ everyone all the time for the rest of your life ,is a life draining activity. Third, giving up your dreams and desires, so not to ‘displease’ anyone around you, would turn you into a person who has no joy in life.
Lessons In The Story:
1. Follow your dreams and live a life you want to live. At least try to achieve your dreams instead of giving them up without trying.
2. It’s okay to be a little selfish and self-centered and not-so-nice person all the time, to everyone around.
3. Don’t give up or change part of your personality to please someone else.
4. Always remember, you are the only one who owns and lives inside of your body. That means, you are the one, who’d have to deal with your soul’s resentments and anger issues too. Irrespective of how good you’re when it comes to suppressing those feelings/issues.
“Stay mad, but behave like normal people. Run the risk of being different but learn to do so without attracting attention.” ~~ Paulo Coelho (Book: Veronica Decides to Die)
I’m not going to comment on the writing style, though the translator’s writing style is lucid and engaging. But to be able to remark on the author’s writing style, I feel I’d have to read the books in the original language.
At first I was afraid that this is the Paulo Coelho book I will hate, but I don’t hate it. ‘Veronica Decides To Die by Paulo Coelho’ is a Must Read!
“I’m trying to study so-called normal human behavior. A lot of doctors before me have done similar studies and reached the conclusion that normality is merely a matter of consensus; that is, a lot of people think something is right, and so that thing becomes right.” ~~ Paulo Coelho (Veronica Decides to Die)
Cited From: Passionate Book Reviews