SYNOPSIS: In his latest international bestseller, the celebrated author of The Alchemist addresses the fundamental questions asked by millions: What am I doing here today? and Why do I go on living?

Twenty-four-year-old Veronika seems to have everything she could wish for: youth and beauty, plenty of attractive boyfriends, a fulfilling job, and a loving family. Yet something is lacking in her life. Inside her is a void so deep that nothing could possibly ever fill it. So, on the morning of November 11, 1997, Veronika decides to die. She takes a handful of sleeping pills expecting never to wake up.

Naturally, Veronika is stunned when she does wake up at Villete, a local mental hospital, where the staff informs her that she has, in fact, partially succeeded in achieving her goal. While the overdose didn’t kill Veronika immediately, the medication has damaged her heart so severely that she has only days to live.

The story follows Veronika through the intense week of self-discovery that ensues. To her surprise, Veronika finds herself drawn to the confinement of Villete and its patients, who, each in his or her individual way, reflect the heart of human experience. In the heightened state of life’s final moments, Veronika discovers things she has never really allowed herself to feel before: hatred, fear, curiosity, love, and sexual awakening. She finds that every second of her existence is a choice between living and dying, and at the eleventh hour emerges more open to life than ever before.

In Veronika Decides to Die, Paulo Coelho takes the reader on a distinctly modern quest to find meaning in a culture overshadowed by angst, soulless routine, and pervasive conformity. Based on events in Coelho’s own life, Veronika Decides to Die questions the meaning of madness and celebrates individuals who do not fit into patterns society considers to be normal. Poignant and illuminating, it is a dazzling portrait of a young woman at the crossroads of despair and liberation, and a poetic, exuberant appreciation of each day as a renewed opportunity.


“Veronika Decides to Die” is a short, odd book with much to say about mental health, suicide, and life in general. Are we living to life’s full potential or just pretending that problems or people that are different don’t exist? I really enjoyed this book with its interesting views on life and mental health. It takes place in a mental institution that still practices some unapproved or probably illegal (and outdated) methods to help their patients overcome anxiety, depression, and other illnesses.

Veronika seems sure of herself from the beginning, but as she grows she realizes that she was wrong. Life is more than what she settled for before she decided to die. Life is worth living! A great thing to realize, even if it seems to be too late.

I enjoyed how the story switched to different characters’ viewpoints. Some books don’t do this as smoothly and it makes it hard to read, but Paulo Coelho really helped me get into each character’s situation easily and without confusion.

I definitely need to pick up a few more of his books!

%d bloggers like this: