Sat, 20 Apr, 2024


Book Review: Veronika Decides to Die


By Amshu Upreti

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Veronika Decides to Die is a novel by Bestselling author Paulo Coelho. This book is partly based on Coelho's experience in various mental institutions, and deals with the subject of madness. 

The central character of this book is Veronika. 24 year old Veronika is a beautiful girl, with a job, friends and is adored by many suitors. Despite having a comfortable life, one day Veronika commits suicide by overdosing on sleeping pills. An outsider looking at Veronika will probably say that she had everything a person could ask for, why would she want to end her life? Her attempt of suicide leads her to a metal asylum Villette. Veronika who had hoped to never wake again found herself waking up from a coma only to find out that her heart had been severely damaged from overdosing and had only a week to live. Now the story begins, The entire book revolves around the time interval that she spends in the hospital awaiting death. At first Veronika was saddened by the fact that she had a few days to live but she came to realize that it was what she actually wanted from the very start. She befriends few of the other patients including Mari, Eduard,  Zedka. The side characters story is also presented very well in the book. With each passing time she develops a taste of life, trying different things and running wild. Inside the mental hospital she found people free, doing what their heart wills, not caring what others think. Well it is a mental hospital, people who are termed “ill-fit”, “abnormal”and “mad” by the society are found there.

What does being normal refer to? How is one supposed to fit in the category of “normal”? If someone wanders beyond the standard the society has set, he/she is looked down upon. 

Paulo Coelho’s classic last page revelation which can be seen in most of his writings is also found here, the reason why VeroniKa decides to die isn’t extraordinary or out of the box tragic story. After going through the book I believe that every one of us at a certain phase of life has felt like VeroniKa. The emptiness, the void that seems to spread more and more with each 
passing day. 
Madness lies within everyone. Some try to seal it with a mask of normality while others express it and are termed as “odd” by the society. We have the urge to be black or white but never “grey”.  One of the key messages the book conveys is that even a mentally unstable person may have their own hidden strength , talent or perspective of viewing life in a different manner. Life shouldn't be taken for granted, everyday is a miracle. Listen to what others have to say, take advice but do the thing that best suits your interest. You are the one who holds the remote of your life. There will be phases where the heaviness of the wall might seem to crumble upon you and leave you helpless at such times, maybe a book like Veronika Decides to die will spark a light.

"Stop thinking all the time that you're in the way, that you're bothering the person next to you. If people don't like it, they can complain. And if they don't have the courage to complain, that's their problem."
-Paulo Coelho

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