Book Review: The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
What rolled off my lips when I was done with this book was, “Wow!” It was nothing like I expected it to be. This book very different, and I’m glad I took the time to read it.
I had heard about ‘The Alchemist’ whilst in Senior High School, when my poetry teacher was taking us through the poem, “The Sun Rising”, by John Donne. (I loved this poem so much, I will blog on it soon!) The poem made reference to “alchemy” and she asked if anyone of us had read that book.
It sounded boring, because I knew next to nothing about alchemy. The book is like a long and interesting lecture on “Life and Living It,” immersed in 300 pages. The key lesson I took from this book was to follow my heart. It is a storyline that begets the reality of the notion: “Where your heart is, there your treasure is also”.
The Alchemist is a book on life, and the course people take in their lives to achieving their destiny or fulfilling their dreams. The manner in which the story unfolds teaches that even when your dreams become reality at the very place you are now, the journey to uncovering this knowledge – the journey involved in fulfilling your destiny is as important as the destiny itself.
Paulo Coelho did a great job putting this together, with basic and authentic writing. The plot was completely unpredictable, and it was refreshing to have my curiosity met in ways that I didn’t expect it to be.
The first thing I noticed was that the author never stopped referring to Santiago as a boy. Santiago was the name of the main character. He was a shepherded who (as revealed later in the book), until he turned sixteen, had attended a seminary to become a priest. The boy realized that his purpose was outside of the seminary walls and left to pursue it.
This “boy” lived a life that most men have not, and spoke wisdom most men don’t have. I was looking forward to when he would be called “the man” as opposed to “the boy” – but right up to the very last page, he was “the boy”. I don’t know if there was a ‘deep’ reason, but it is safe to suggest that Santiago being a learner of life, and approaching everything with a child-like mentality put him in the best position to learn much.
What fascinated me about the book was the subtle ways in which the issues of life were presented to the reader. From the way I see it, The Alchemist teaches the following:
How much we can allow our faith to grow (or not)
The cost of chasing your dreams (or not)
The wealth (or poverty) in pursuit of one’s destiny (or not)
The underlying factor of alchemy is to purify, mature and perfect oneself
While reading this book, the highlight (for me) was when the boy spoke to “the hand that wrote all”. He didn’t actually speak, but in his attempt to speak, the boy learnt what I believe is the essence of life itself; discovering God, His glory and His work in and through us.
The Alchemist is a very insightful read, that has left me in a pensive state about the issues of life. I will read this book again, and I’m sure when I do, I will be able to (at least), get a hint of the depth within the pages of the book.
You should too!