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The Alchemist By Paulo Coelho 9780007155668
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Brazilian writer Coelho has published five titles in 45 languages in 120 countries, and has sold 23 million books. It's easy to see why. This charming, simple and well-written allegory tells of a boy, Santiago, who has the imagination and courage to follow his "Personal Legend." Santiago finds fairy godfathers at many turns who help him learn to keep up his courage, and to read omens and his own heart. The book's inspirational message follow your heart and do your own thing is oblique enough, to allow readers to interpret it in any way they choose, with whatever degree and form of spirituality one adheres to: "To realize one's destiny is a person's only obligation." But apparently only men need apply; a woman's destiny is to wait for her hero to find his treasure and return home to her. The real treasure here is Jeremy Irons. His intriguing, subtle and powerful performance carries us along on the boy's adventures, into his confusions and insights, through discussions with kings and animals, through the desert and the sun and even through the philosophical passages. Based on the Harper San Francisco hardcover. (Mar.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

`` `In order to find the treasure, you will have to follow the omens. God has prepared a path for everyone to follow. You just have to read the omens that he left for you.' Before the boy could reply, a butterfly appeared and fluttered between him and the old man. He remembered something his grandfather had once told him: that butterflies were a good omen. Like crickets, and like expectations; like lizards and four-leaf clovers.'' The boy is Santiago, a Spanish shepherd who wants to fulfill his dream of seeing the world. When he meets some people who tell him that he will find his treasure near the Pyramids, he decides to take the risk and sheds his old life like a snake shedding skin. The boy's journey and metamorphosis are subjects of the tale. The book is peopled with gypsies, old men, kings, warriors, desert-dwellers, and an alchemist, who describes Santiago's fate if he decides to settle for less than his dream. Destiny conspires with ambition to move him to realize his potential. A familiar theme in a New Age package.-- Peggie Partello, Keene State Coll, N.H.

YA-- This simple, yet eloquent parable celebrates the richness of the human spirit. A young Spanish shepherd seeking his destiny travels to Egypt where he learns many lessons, particularly from a wise old alchemist. The real alchemy here, however, is the transmuting of youthful idealism into mature wisdom. The blending of conventional ideas with an exotic setting makes old truths seem new again. This shepherd takes the advice Hamlet did not heed, learning to trust his heart and commune with it as a treasured friend. Enjoyable and easy to read, this timeless fantasy validates the aspirations and dreams of youth.-- Sabrina Fraunfelter, Fairfax County Public Library, VA

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