There were some of the emotional insights into the human condition that we've come to expect from Mr. Coelho in this book, but I really think he should have made the characters older, they do not read like 30 year olds, they read more like 40 year olds (if you feel this way at 30 man you're life really sucks). I found I could relate to almost all of it though as I hit 38. I'd give the book 3 stars, I liked it I don't regret reading it, it was a quick and easy read compared to my other projects of trudging through Tolstoy's War and Peace or Thomas Piketty's Capital in the 21st Century this was like reading a comic book). I could see why this book would generate mixed reviews though, I think you'll either hate it, be annoyed by it, think it was entertaining, or you'll love it... it all depends on your frame of reference. Bottom line though it was written for entertainment and it delivers on that front no problem at all.
My favorite lines are noted below as well as my final thoughts on the book.
page 6 "I think that passion is strictly for the young. Presumably, its absence is normal at my age (30), but that isn't what terrifies me. Today I am a woman torn between the terror that everything might change and equal terror that everything might carry on exactly the same for the rest of my days."
page 19 "Being riddled with guilt because you have no reason to feel like this when there are so many people in the world who are really suffering."
page 29 "Not everyone needs to feel happy all the time. Besides, no one can be happy all the time. I need to learn to deal with the reality of life."
page 45 "I can't stand myself any longer. My life is like a film endlessly repeating the same scene. When we meet with friends, we always talk about the same things and the same people. The conversations seem new, but it's all just a waste of time and energy. We're trying to prove that life is still interesting. Everyone is trying to control their own unhappiness."
page 51 "And all these things make us feel old, make us feel that we're leading dull, in adventurous lives as our skin grows ever more flaccid..."
page 123 "There is nothing else to discover, and we try to get as much pleasure as possible from the same things. This is like eating chocolate every day, without changing brands or trying new flavors: it's not a sacrifice, but isn't there anything else? For me I could eat the same chocolate every day if it's a good one like Godiva or better. Sometimes you try other brands and they are crap."
page 138 "One week later, I do what I promised myself I would never do: see a psychiatrist."
page 143 "If the man in the middle had been born today, everyone -especially Catholics, in France and around the world -would call him a terrorist. His name is John Calvin, and Geneva was his field of operations."
page 150 "Everything is awful. Please, leave me alone, because I have no more tears to cry or heart left to suffer. All I have is insomnia, emptiness, and apathy, and, if you just ask yourselves, you're feeling the same thing."
page 206 "I watch people coming and going, all so busy in their own worlds, tiny enough to fit on the screen of their smartphones from which they are unable to unglue their eyes and ears."
page 216 "What is really contagious is fear, the constant fear of never finding someone to accompany us to the end of our days."
page 242"Do you think all this beauty an grandeur can fit in a little square of film? Record things in your heart. It's more important than trying to show people what you're experiencing."
Really she should consider herself lucky it was only a year, for some people this madness and depression lasts a lifetime. If only we could all fuck our way out of depression and loneliness with no consequences for our actions, we'd all be a lot happier.