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  Library Journal Review

`` `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. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

  Booklist Review

In his native Brazil, novelist Coelho is outsold only by Colombia's Gabriel Garc{{¡}}ia M{{ }}arquez, and he will undoubtedly establish himself here with the publication of this, his second novel, which has been a hit all over Latin America, Europe, and Asia. Coelho's story seems like something from the land of Scheherazade, told by one lover to the other in postcoital bliss, all with the outward simplicity yet deep resonance that is common to fables. "The boy's name was Santiago," it begins; Santiago is well educated and had intended to be a priest. But a desire for travel, to see every part of his native Spain, prompted him to become a shepherd instead. He's contented. But then twice he dreams about hidden treasure, and a seer tells him to follow the dream's instructions: go to Egypt to the pyramids, where he will find a treasure. After that, a wise man informs Santiago that "to realize one's destiny is a person's only real obligation," and that life is full of omens one must read and follow. Santiago parts with his flock and sets off for Tangier en route to Egypt. In Tangier Santiago flourishes, and much time passes. But at last he joins a caravan heading eastward and meets a famous alchemist, who further points Santiago in the direction of his treasure. Santiago makes it to the pyramids and there learns where his fortune is actually to be found. Beneath this novel's compelling story and the shimmering elegance with which it's told, lies a bedrock of wisdom about following one's heart. Coelho teaches the lesson with originality and dignity and without excess emotion. (Reviewed May 1, 1993)0062502174Brad Hooper

  Kirkus Review

Coelho is a Brazilian writer with four books to his credit. Following Diary of a Magus (1992--not reviewed) came this book, published in Brazil in 1988: it's an interdenominational, transcendental, inspirational fable--in other words, a bag of wind. The story is about a youth empowered to follow his dream. Santiago is an Andalusian shepherd boy who learns through a dream of a treasure in the Egyptian pyramids. An old man, the king of Salem, the first of various spiritual guides, tells the boy that he has discovered his destiny: ``to realize one's destiny is a person's only real obligation.'' So Santiago sells his sheep, sails to Tangier, is tricked out of his money, regains it through hard work, crosses the desert with a caravan, stops at an oasis long enough to fall in love, escapes from warring tribesmen by performing a miracle, reaches the pyramids, and eventually gets both the gold and the girl. Along the way he meets an Englishman who describes the Soul of the World; the desert woman Fatima, who teaches him the Language of the World; and an alchemist who says, ``Listen to your heart.'' A message clings like ivy to every encounter; everyone, but everyone, has to put in their two cents' worth, from the crystal merchant to the camel driver (``concentrate always on the present, you'll be a happy man''). The absence of characterization and overall blandness suggest authorship by a committee of self-improvement pundits--a far cry from Saint- Exupéry's The Little Prince: that flagship of the genre was a genuine charmer because it clearly derived from a quirky, individual sensibility. Coelho's placebo has racked up impressive sales in Brazil and Europe. Americans should flock to it like gulls. (First printing of 50,000)
Summary
<p>Every few decades a book is published that changes the lives of its readers forever. The Alchemist is such a book. With over two million copies sold in English and twenty-one million copies worldwide, The Alchemist has established itself as a modern classic that will enchant and inspire readers for generations to come.
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