Love Child

I finished reading Paulo Coelho's The Alchemist yesterday.

I'm just going to be honest. This book disappointed did not live up to the hype.

The first few pages of the novel intrigued me. While reading, I even wrote down quotes. I even wrote down quotes with page numbers so I could go back. Here, I’ll share them with you just to prove that at one point I thought this book was going to be good.

“It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting…” (11)

“…and when each day is the same as the next, it’s because people fail to recognize the good things that happen in their lives every day that the sun rises.” (27)

See?!?! Those quotes are inspirational right? One could even argue that they border on insightful. Certainly there is some merit there.

And that, my friends, is the last good thing I have to say about The Alchemist.

Unfortunately, after that the book takes a nose dive. There are 100–plus more pages of pseudo-intellectual, spiritual gibberish that is meant to come off as esoteric and really just seems frothy and borderline silly.

For Instance:
"The boy thought about that for a while as he looked at the moon and the bleached sands. 'I have watched the caravan as it crossed the desert,' he said.  'The caravan and the desert speak the same language, and it's for that reason that the desert allows the crossing.  It's going to test the caravan's every step to see if it's in time, and, if it is, we will make it to the oasis.'" (79)

Can a man and a book procreate?? Because I'm pretty sure they did. I believe The Alchemist is the love child of Joel Osteen and the The Secret. At best, this book is a 167 page prosperity gospel sermon (i.e. do well, get paid). At worst it is a 167 page prosperity gospel sermon. It might sound really hopeful, its message might be really attractive, but after the book is closed and the last passage read, the reader is left with nothing of substance to hold on to. Well, I guess NOTHING is too strong. I did like those quotes I shared above.

The whole premise is “that when you really want something to happen, the whole universe conspires so that your wish comes true.” (That was stolen right out of the mouth of my bro-in-law. Thanks, Sean) And isn’t that a nice idea? Except, uhhhhhh, THAT’S TOTALLY NOT TRUE. At least, in my 34 years of life I haven't found that to be true.  But, maybe I'm just not living right.  Does anyone else out there feel like the Universe is making all your dreams come true?  Books like this just FEED into our totally human and already out of control sense of entitlement. Please, Mr. Coelho, the last thing I need is to be encouraged.

Look, I'm all for positive thinking. I'm a giant optimist. I'm pretty sure it drives my husband crazy on a daily basis.  And I'm no dream killer. Dream big, please. I dare you. But, are we really so self absorbed to believe that THE WHOLE UNIVERSE is at our beckon call waiting to deliver our hopes and dreams??????

When I was half way through the book, I got an email from Charlotte over at the The Daily Snapshot. She summed up exactly what I was feeling as I forced myself to finish the book. The Alchemist is “trying too hard to be impressive.” She hit the nail on the head. 

In my estimation, The Alchemist not only tries too hard but fails miserably.  I can admit that there are nuggets of insight buried in The Alchemist's overworked prose. Unfortunately, for me as a reader, those truths get lost in Coelho's muddled mess of an allegory.  In his attempt to fuse multiple spiritual disciplines he lands somewhere in the murky middle.  Which, for me, results in a confusing messy work. 

Reading The Alchemist is like eating cupcakes for breakfast.  While you're eating the cupcakes they taste good.  But after the meal you're left with a sugar rush that won't be sufficient fuel to sustain through the day.

And with that I open the mic to YOU. 
Have you read it?  Did you love it?  If so, what did I miss?