“In order to appreciate life, one must taste death”
Paulo Coelho’s ‘Veronika Decides to Die’ is a book that teaches you to appreciate life and be grateful for being alive. The plot revolves around Veronika, a young and beautiful girl from Slovenia, who has the perfect life- money, a job, a loving family, and a good number of boyfriends, yet there’s something inside her that needs to be filled- a void that continues to trouble her. So one fine morning, she gulps down a few sleeping pills and decides to die. However, things clearly do not go the way she plans them, and she wakes up to find herself in Villete, a mental hospital- the country’s lunatic asylum where she is informed that her plan has been postponed by a few days; though she hasn’t died immediately, she has damaged her heart greatly, and therefore, she’s got only a few more days to live. Villete is more of a purgatory, where she hangs in until death is finally conferred upon her, and where she meets people who awaken her soul.
The story then unfolds to reveal Veronika’s journey of self-discovery, in the intense week that follows. She is drawn to the patients and confinements of her new place, Villette, and realizes that each individual reflects the heart and glory of human life and experience. It is during this time, that she feels the things she has never felt before: curiosity, fear, love, hatred, sexual awakening. She understands that each moment of her being is an option between life and death, and in the final stage of her time, she becomes more open to life and its ways, than she ever has been. Through Veronika, the writer helps to travel boundaries between happiness and despair, sanity and madness, life and death.
In this book, the author takes you on a modern pursuit to seek meaning in a society and culture, eclipsed with anguish, soulless life, and invasive conventionality. He questions the rhetoric principles, the sense of madness, celebrates people who the society terms as misfits and makes you wonder about the significance of life. Illuminating, poignant and liberating, ‘Veronika Decides to Die’ is a book at exuberantly appreciating our everyday lives, with a changed and renewed opportunity.