The story revolves around a girl, Veronika, who attempted suicide but failed. She was then admitted to a mental institution called Villete where she spent her remaining days. Her diagnosis being that she’ll live up to a week due to her heart condition caused by the drug overdose when she attempted to take her own life.
In Villete she’s met all different kinds of ‘insane’ people. Someone who suffered from panic attack, another from depression, and another from schizophrenia. All of whom despite her resistance, she’s developed meaningful connections with.
She never really thought of herself as insane. To be fair, she is a fully-functioning member of the society. A beautiful young woman with a life ahead of her. What made her take her life, you might ask? And why would she do such a thing if she isn’t insane? Well what does it really mean to be insane?
I read Veronika Decides To Die in a span of five days. Picking it up during my reading time and before bed. To be honest I wasn’t drawn to it during the first few chapters, perhaps because of the theme of the book being death and mental health. Reading through the pages felt heavy in the beginning.
Veronika tried to take her own life by downing bottles of sleeping pills. I laughed when I read this because 1) what a cliche, and 2) I have ruminated on this exact way to go years ago. To be specific I thought taking the pills with beer would be a great way to go. Clearly I know nothing.
What does it mean to be insane? In this book I believe being insane meant daring to be different— diverging from what society deems to be the right and normal thing. I laughed yet again at this realisation. Remembering the time when I left my comfortable life overseas to go back to my home country to start over. I knew people rolled eyes at my decision. Thinking I’m crazy for throwing away everything. Because going overseas was seen by many as the best path to having a good life. But they didn’t know of the inner turmoil I was battling with. And that to them made me crazy.
I hated this book because it made me reflect.
And I loved it because it did.
Veronika Decides To Die will make you pore on your perspective in life and the role that societal conformity plays in it. It will challenge your views on death and life, and show you how knowing that death is imminent changes your perception of life: you start appreciating every moment and allow yourself to express yourself.
If you didn’t feel that connection with this book, that’s fine.
Not everybody will understand what Paulo Coelho wrote here because you need to go through some experiences to have the similar perspective. In short, it takes one to know one.
“An awareness of death encourages us to live more intensely.”Excerpt from Veronika Decides To Die
Get yourself a copy here: Veronika Decides To Die.
If you liked this Paulo Coelho book review, you might want to check this list of books I plan to read for 2022 and you might just find your next read!
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