The Alchemist

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
“Paulo Coelho’s enchanting novel has inspired a devoted following around the world. This story, dazzling in its powerful simplicity and inspiring wisdom, 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 point 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 transforming power of our dreams and the importance of listening to our hearts.”
Where have I been? I haven’t ever heard of this book before until my book group decided to read it this month. This is a powerful book. It is full of symbolism, adventure, treasure, love, kings, crystal, long journeys, sand, wars, sheep, stolen money, gold, greed, wisdom, and alchemy. What is alchemy, you ask? Well, I’ll admit–I had to look up alchemy in the dictionary. Alchemy is: 1. a medieval chemical science and speculative philosophy aiming to achieve the transmutation of the base metals into gold, the discovery of a universal cure for disease, and the discovery of a means of indefinitely prolonging life 2. a power or process of transforming something common into something special (Webster’s Dictionary). I love the last definition. This book is about a journey of a shepherd boy. I don’t want to give anything away, so I’ll leave it at that. I love Paulo Coelho’s writing style. It is simple, yet so profound. There are hidden messages everywhere in this book. There is a lot of imagery and symbolism. It is written well. It flows well, is understandable, and the characters are well developed. Some of them are a bit mysterious, but that adds another layer to this story that I loved. The life lessons this book teaches are important and meaningful. (Following your dreams, listening to your heart, working hard, positive attitude about where life takes you, making the best of every situation, etc.) I think everyone can learn something about living life to the fullest by reading this book. It’s a short book, but is not a fast read. It takes time to really read and digest this book. I love books that have me thinking about them days after I finish, and this book is one of them. I also think that reading it at different times in your life will provide different feelings, lessons learned, and items of importance. If you’ve read it before, read it again and let me know if you took something different away from it the second time. I bet you will.  I enjoyed this book and definitely recommend it.
Rating: PG (There isn’t any profanity or “intimacy” in this book. There is some minor violence with a desert war, but it’s minimal.)
Recommendation: 13 and up (7th grade-ish) It is clean, so it would be appropriate for someone younger, but it is quite deep, and I’m not sure anyone younger would understand it or be able to walk away from it having learned anything.

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