Rating: 4 out of 5
This was my first Coelho in more than a decade. As such, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect: which way it would go and how I would treat it. As it turns out, I liked it but not unequivocally. I think the easiest explanation for that is while the subject often treated questions that are thrilling — mysticism for one — I had no greater interest in hippies.
When Sr. Coelho treats a topic, however, it is impossible to not think about it in more depth. ‘The hippie’ comes through this as a person who tries to understand the Universe around them and to act with it in a more equal way. It is quite good therefore to see how the author has interwoven some political commentary — or at least mentions of what was going on at the time of these events — into the main story.
The personal journey of the young Paulo also made me think along. This is a conscientious youth the author describes — though no doubt he took some liberties with his young self — and the way Young Paulo moves with the flow is enviable. Karla, who is perhaps the more important of the characters, has the same quality with a healthy addition of intellect.
The journey by bus from Amsterdam to Kathmandu is also one for the dreams. The complexities that Paulo and Karla overcome on their journey up to Istanbul bring the two closer — but overall also help in figuring out what the two want for themselves. That, perhaps, is the most important message I got from this book.
The more I reflect on it, the more I like it — even if the read itself partially felt like a trudge. But, it seems as if Sr. Coelho’s mysticism still suits me…