What is reality? Webster's Unabridged Dictionary defines it as: something that exists independently of ideas concerning it; something that exists independently of all other things and from which all other things derive; something that constitutes a real or actual thing, as distinguished from something that is merely apparent. So, what defines reality? I mean can anyone, in all honesty, construct a concrete reproduction in which to turn and point proclaiming once and for all, "There, I give you reality in the flesh." The answer simply is no. For as, the character, Dr. Igor stated .".. Other things, however, become fixed because more and more people believe that's the way they should be (167)." Reality is nothing more than a socially accepted opinion - a perception inherently subjective. This very principle is the driving force behind Paulo Coelho's introspective novel, Veronica Decides To Die.

Veronica Decides to Die is an interesting story about a young woman called 'Veronica' who wants to die but her suicide is not successful and she finds herself in 'Villet', a place for the both the insane, as well as, the sane. Although she insists on pursuing the end she has chosen, some events, relationships, and her doctor's trick changes her view toward life. This novel is colored by the author's intimate knowledge of the world of mental hospitals, the relationships, and the comfort and anxiety of living in such a place. Coelho's story of insanity and madness in contrast to the monotony of life provokes the feeling of self-discovery and the power of challenging all limitations and traditions. In this atmosphere created by Coelho, you learn that being different doesn't mean being mad and you understand that reality is something the majority deems to be, not necessary the best or the most logical one. It is in the vivid moments of Veronica Decides To Die that you can feel love and religious beliefs are the most important feelings one can have in one's life.

You also recognize how one can stop one's feelings like fear, hatred and love and let them emerge in a way which makes one fresh without any 'vitrol' (mind's bitterness), the poison believed to be the cause of insanity. Paulo Coelho first won my heart with his work entitled, The Alchemist, and with Veronica Decides To Die he secured a permanent place there. I must say that this particular novel was, at times, hard for me to read - not for any technical fault on Coelho's part - because the story being told in many ways is my life. This bold element of truth employed by Coelho often times feels intrusive and even abrasive, all of which I found materialized for most of my classmates, turning them off. Yet, perhaps this very response validates this clinical illustration of society's illogical nature. As Dr.

Igor later explained, .".. However, society always imposes on us a collective way of behaving, and people never stop to wonder why they should behave like that... (168)." And therefore, reserved for the select few is the invitation to re-examine all the preconceptions by which one allows their life to be governed and then make a change. Veronica Decides to Die is an odd challenge between life and death. The one, which helps you to realize that every moment of life, is a precious gift -- a miracle! Read it once, and you might find the answer of some of your numerous questions about life! While this piece of literature is still very young, when held against Kawabata's Thousand Cranes and Mafouz's The Beginning and The End, there is no questioning the future that awaits Coelho and his works.