In a funny way I’ve always wanted to read this book and a lot of people have been recommending it to me for a very long time but as I don’t really like Coelho I kept putting it off. Finally I’ve got an opportunity to read it and I didn’t mind it too much.
Veronika purposely overdoses on sleeping pills and wakes up the next day in a mental asylum. There she is told that the pills have damaged her heart and she has only one week to live. At first Veronika sticks to routine but since there are other mad people surrounding her she loses her inhibitions and starts to become more spontaneous (like slapping a man or playing a piano) and live a day-to-day existence. In other words she becomes a person. The people who help her grow spiritually are some of the inmates, namely Zedka, Mari and Edouard, who all have been victims of societies norms. There’s also a sub plot about The Asylum’s head doctor but that would give away the plot.
As usual Veronika is a typical Coelho story. It’s spiritual, positive and offers guidance in a self help sort of way. Actually it is his least preachy book so it didn’t bother me as much. I will say though that he does pile on the sadness throughout most of the book to such a degree that it becomes ridiculous but then Coelho is all about that. I did like the fact that Coelho breaks the fourth wall and enters the book as a character and i’m sure that Edouard represents the author as well (Coelho was institutionalized due to the fact that he was artistic) .
In the end the message of Veronika Decides to Die is for us to break free of life’s constraints and to live a life that helps us develop and become full human beings. As a novel it is quite good – not superb or a masterpiece but it will lift your spirits up if you are going through a bad patch.