My first summer book (yes, I know it's still spring) is Paulo Coelho's The Alchemist. It's the story of Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy, and his quest for his destiny. On his journey to discover this destiny, he encounters a king, a thief, a crystal merchant, an Englishman/student, and, as the title suggests, an alchemist. Each character plays an important role in Santiago's discovery.
The Alchemist is a simple book, and I am late in reading it. It was released in the 1990s. I remember seeing it in bookstores, reading about it in magazines, hearing friends talk about it. Perhaps I wasn't ready for magic of the story. Maybe the personal revelations that come about when one reads a story like this were going to be too much for me at the time. My subconscious was right in having me wait until age 37, this particular point in my life, to read about Santiago's journey from Spain to Egypt.
In Santiago's story, every movement, word, and encounter are vital. Before I read, I wondered if this was just going to be one of those "young man" stories that I'd read a thousand times before and found only halfway relatable. Indeed, The Alchemist focuses on a young man's journey and his heart, but his yearnings are universal: purpose and love.
With its simple and magical language, The Alchemist brings alive the search for meaning and all the human trappings that humble us along the way. I am even recommending this story for my rising fifth-grader, who loves fables and fantasies.
Have you read this book? What do you think?