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Veronika Decides to Die: A Novel of Redemption Paperback – May 23, 2006
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"Girl Interrupted meets The Catcher in the Rye...you'll appreciate Veronika's sensual nihilism."--Mademoiselle
From the Back Cover
Twenty-four-year-old Veronika seems to have everything—youth and beauty, boyfriends and a loving family, a fulfilling job. But something is missing in her life. So, one cold November morning, she takes a handful of sleeping pills expecting never to wake up. But she does—at a mental hospital where she is told that she has only days to live.Inspired by events in Coelho’s own life, Veronika Decides to Die questions the meaning of madness and celebrates individuals who do not fit into patterns society considers to be normal. Bold and illuminating, it is a dazzling portrait of a young woman at the crossroads of despair and liberation, and a poetic, exuberant appreciation of each day as a renewed opportunity.
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In the Vernika Decides to Die the character Dr. Igor carries the thesis of understanding bitterness and the response thereof as the source of mankind's trial. I find this a worthy thesis and the author finds many character pathways into this trial. In one trial, patience manifests itself as an antidote to bitterness and creative adventurousness in another. I liked those trials. The author's use of leaves to describe sameness and uniqueness in a few sentences is appreciated.
One last note, in Coelho's description of the inspiration behind the book, he describes that in Brazil at the time of his younger years around 1960 to 1970 the term artist, "was synonymous with homosexual, communist, drug addict, and layabout," this is very similar, in the same time period, to the USA's general view of the same and in particular my own. I would, at that time, have thrown in with artist those who drank and smoked. I look back on this view as rather simplistic and narrow but like most views in an attempt to find a voice and discern in choosing behavior, occasionally functional and then again at times completely out of whack with our pluralistic society and the subtlety of influences that we face.
Also, it touches on the fact that when you are living and doing the same things every day in a mundane routine, you tend to think this life is not for you and is not worth living as it just a rote existence and you just want to end it all.
It's an eye opening book, but you have to interpret the full meaning below the surface/words. If you take it at face value, I don't think you will like it. This is my 4th book that I have read by Paulo and thus far my 3rd favorite.