Just like all the other books by Paulo Coelho, Veronika Decides to Die, not only embraces the inevitable but also takes the reader on a journey to understand the most crucial part of life: death.
This book mostly revolves around Veronika, a young woman in her mid-twenties who has a charming face, some even charming boyfriends and an envious life filled with the love of her family, friends and all the materialistic things that a girl could need.
But of course, that does not mean that her life is perfect; because no sooner than two pages into the book, Veronika decides to die. She swallows a handsome number of pills that she had managed to get a hold of and goes into a coma. And she could have succeeded in dying at that moment itself if it hadn’t been for her concerned neighbor. (Does this remind anyone else a little bit of Sylvia Plath?)
Instead of dying in her bedroom, next to her bay window, quenched with life; Veronika ends up in Villete. Villete is an asylum in Ljubljana (which is a pretty but generally unnoticeable place somewhere in Europe) that takes mad people and (unofficially) makes them madder still.
But it’s not the story line that makes this book interesting; it’s Coelho’s diction and philosophy that is poetically incorporated into the book that makes the reader want to drink in his every last word.
This book makes you question and redefine your definition of being mad.
Veronika Decides to Die epitomizes the importance of life. And even though, very ironically, it is based on death and suicide, it makes the reader want to live his or her life like it’s a miracle. It depicts the beautiful art of being mad, embracing it, incorporating it within your life and absolutely loving it. Yes, Coelho takes the overused and mundane idiom, ‘live like there’s no tomorrow,’ and gives it a whole new meaning.
You can never learn the importance of something sweet until you have tasted the bitter. Veronika learns the importance of life only after her blood in consumed in Vitriol (you’ll understand what I am saying after you read the book).
Coelho tells us the importance of embracing our true selves and becoming incoherently mad, to discard the restrictive roles that society had carefully modelled us into and to accept our differences and just move on. For him, those who are mad are the ones who truly live; they are free and emotionally alive.