Wednesday, November 16, 2016
Review of "Veronika Decides to Die" by Paulo Coelho
Veronika, an attractive 24-year-old woman living in Ljubljana, Slovenia, has loving parents, an okay job, decent boyfriends, and so on. However she's tired of her routine life and tries to commit suicide. Veronika's attempt fails and she wakes up in Villete, a local mental hospital. There Veronika is told that her suicide attempt has severely damaged her heart and she has about a week to live.
Liberated from worries about going on with life - and learning that mental patients are free to exhibit any behavior they like - Veronika decides to interact with some fellow patients. She befriends Mari, who has panic attacks; Zedka, who is depressed; and Eduard, a catatonic schizophrenic who seems to enjoy Veronika's piano playing. Meanwhile, Dr. Igor,the head psychiatrist, studies Veronika and the other patients at Villete to test his theory that a body substance called "vitriol" causes mental illnes. By the end of the book Veronika's presence at Villete causes many of the patients to change their attitudes about their own mental illness as well as how they want to live their lives.
The book seems to accurately describe the behavior of some mentally ill people but I thought the depiction of the patients was generally superficial and provided little insight into true mental illness. However some of the characters were interesting and the story was okay.
Rating: 3 stars