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Thursday, July 18, 2013

Throwback Thursday Review: The Alchemist (Coelho)

Title: The Alchemist
Author: Coelho

Genre: Fiction, Fantasy, Parable, Journey, Adventure, Dreams
Pages: 177
Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5 stars (audio version: 4 out of 5 stars)
Ages: High School, Adult, some Middle School students also (I'm going to buy a copy for my library for the fall)

Jumping on the "Throwback Thursday" theme, I thought that I would review a book that has been in print for quite some time, having first been published in Brazil in 1988. So, it's quite likely that you have heard about this title, and might have already read it.

Funny thing, though, I had never read it until just this last week. It was actually recommended to me by my son who beat me to it. So, of course I had to read it (since the teen boy is not a normally a reader and I find myself inclined to devour anything he suggests). I decided to listen to it on audio since I love my Audible subscription.

From the Publisher: 
"My heart is afraid that it will have to suffer," the boy told the alchemist one night as they looked up at the moonless sky." Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself. And that no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams." 
The Alchemist is the magical story of Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy who yearns to travel in search of a worldly treasure as extravagant as any ever found. From his home in Spain he journeys to the markets of Tangiers and across the Egyptian desert to a fateful encounter with the alchemist. The story of the treasures Santiago finds along the way teaches us, as only a few stories have done, about the essential wisdom of listening to our hearts, learning to read the omens strewn along life's path, and, above all, following our dreams.

This was a short book, but I am quite glad that I listened to it on audio as it is narrated by the impeccable Jeremy Irons. Wonderful reading by an incredible actor!

I can see why this book has resonated with readers around the world for decades. Part fantasy, part fable, part self-help book all wrapped up into one. I think that the storytelling and scene-setting were very strong and you are almost immediately swept up into Santiago's world and rooting for him along his journey. 

In the end, I admire a book where the message is to dream big, listen to your heart, and find your life's mission. Amen to following your dreams!

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