The Alchemist by Paul Coelho
Paul Coelho’s story is about an Andalusian shepherd boy named Santiago who travels from his homeland in Spain to the Egyptian desert in search of a treasure buried in the Pyramids. Along the way he meets a Gypsy woman, a man who calls himself king, and an alchemist, all of whom points Santiago in the direction of his quest. No one knows what the treasure is, or if Santiago will be able to surmount the obstacles along the way. But what starts out as a journey to find worldly goods turns into a discovery of the treasure found within. Lush, evocative, and deeply humane, the story of Santiago is an eternal testament to the transformation power of our dreams and the importance of listening to our hearts.
To give fair warning, if you liked this book, I highly suggest you don’t read my review of it. And if you haven’t read it yet, spoilers.
Because, to be honest, I hated The Alchemist. I disliked almost everything about it. The relationships between the characters were so unrealistic - I can’t even describe. At one point, Santiago meets Fatima, who is apparently his great love. He hasn’t spoken a single word to her yet, and he knows he’s irrevocably in love with her. So what does he do? He marches up and says “I love you.” That might have been okay (not good, but okay) if she hadn’t told returned the sentiment. If a strange guy you’ve never met before walks up to you and confesses his undying love, under no circumstances do you reply “Love you too.”
Then there was the scene in the marketplace, where Santiago just hands a guy his money and then wonders why his “new friend” is running off with it, and shouldn’t he wait up? Or the scene where Santiago is talking to the wind and the sun, and then he is the wind - Sorry, Coelho, you lost me.
I understand that Coelho was trying to impart some deeper meaning - spiritual, religious, whatever - on us, but The Alchemist just didn’t do it for me. There are plenty of books that manage to convey deep messages while still having believable storylines and characters who don’t turn into wind.
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