Veronika Decides to Die by Paulo Coelho

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When they find her body, they will conclude that she had killed herself because a magazine did not know where her country was.

In Paulo Coelho’s Veronika Decides to Die, Veronika does just that – tries to die. She can’t stomach the thought of getting old and living a life where nothing is new, following the same routine of work and home day in and day out. So in the room that she rents in a convent Veronika takes an overdose of sleeping pills. When she wakes up she is in an insane asylum of ill repute and is told she has done irreparable damage to her heart. She has, at most, a week to live. During that week Veronika battles between finding a way to die on her own terms and fighting for life as she begins to realize life is what you make of it. Veronika’s imminent death not only affects her, but her fellow patients as well, some of who are truly sick, but many that are just like her – merely sick of the lives they were living.

I have to say that this novel was pretty cheesy, but I’m a sucker for anything in a mental hospital. Apparently Coehlo himself was committed to a mental hospital by his parents because he dreamed of being an artist. So the novel brings up the questions: What does it really mean to be crazy? Is it such a bad thing? When someone exhibits mental illness is the best approach to lock them away from society, their only contact being with other crazy people or does that just do more harm? Sadly, my take away from this book was “I wonder how I can end up in a mental hospital where I can just eat and read all day?!”

I should have been crazier. But, as it undoubtedly happens with most people, she had  found this out too late.

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