Here is another book review for you all.
Coelho, Paulo. The Alchemist. Harper Torch. 1993. 197 p. 0-06-250217-4.
Genre: Fable/ Adventure/ Fantasy
The Alchemist tells the story of a young shepherd boy named Santiago who goes on a quest to seek his destiny after having a reoccurring prophetic dream of buried treasure. After meeting a gypsy to try to interpret his dream, she tells him that his treasure lies in the pyramids of Egypt. Before he decides to go, he meets an old wise king who encourages him to sell his sheep and go on this journey to seek his destiny — or what he wants to accomplish in his life and tells him that the universe comes together in helping him achieve whatever this is. Through his journey, he meets a crystal merchant, an Englishman, the girl of his dreams, and the Alchemist. Together, these people help him discover what his true meaning of life is and where his heart and treasure lies.
Wow, if I were to rename this novel, I would call it “100 Quotes About Life, Plus a Story That Knocks You On Your Butt”. I don’t know exactly how much time was spent on writing this book but I believe that a lifetime of knowledge is cultivated into this novel. It gives the deepest insights of life, love, loss, etc. while touching upon religion but it does not necessarily force the author’s faith into the reader’s mind. The main character is often referenced as “Boy”, so much so that I didn’t even know his name until I researched the novel a bit. And I liked how the author chose to write this character as someone who is perceived as a mere boy when he goes on a journey that is not meant for one. One of the things this novel does exquisitely is introduce general “universal topics” and weave them seamlessly into the story and also use them to propel the character’s actions. I think the message of his story can be interpreted in many different ways and that is exactly the point. One may not agree with all the points and philosophical views made in this novel but I assure you that one will touch your heart. This book — at least this is what I thought of while reading it — connects people. Much like other forms of art, I believe this book with its focus on dreams, aspirations, goals, love, finding yourself, etc. connects people universally. I think that’s why it’s been popular for awhile now. I had only heard of this book maybe a couple months ago but it’s been in my head for a while now and like in the book, it might have acted as an “omen” for my own life. The book also talks about how nothing happens by coincidence and this is once again, something that people believe in and do not but I do and I feel like this book stumbles into people’s lives like that. They read it when they need to. And one last thing, I’d like to throw out there is that is book reminded me a lot of The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. If any of you like me are completely in love with that book, I think you’d enjoy this one too. I couldn’t help but be reminded of that book while reading this. There was a time in South Korea where the prince kept following me everywhere I went it seemed but that’s a story for another time.
I would teach this novel to a class because I would be very interested in the discussions we would have. As you probably get by now, I’m a big discussion person (maybe I should start a book club). This book lends itself very well to many aspects that can be used by a teacher. Not only pertaining to deep discussions but also geographically. We could map out exactly where and how far the boy goes during his journey and can also make a timeline for how long he was at each location. There is also a lot of symbolism represented in the story so we can pick apart each of these as we go along. We can talk about different fables because this novel is certainly a fable and it has something to teach to each reader it comes across. And I like that that is different for each person. What does personal fulfillment look like to you? To other people around you? I think everyone would have a different answer because it’s their own journey. Honestly, I think I would be able to guide my students to their own answers and let the book be interpreted in many different ways.
Next book review will be on….. Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman. Hope you enjoyed this book review!