Veronika Decides to Die Study Guide

Veronika Decides to Die

Veronika Decides to Die by Paulo Coelho

Veronika Decides to Die Book Summary

Veronika is a beautiful young woman from Ljubljana, Slovenia who appears to have the perfect life, but nevertheless decides to die (commit suicide) by overdosing with sleeping pills. While she waits to die, she decides to read a magazine.

After seeing an article in the magazine which wittily asks "Where is Slovenia?", she decides to write a letter to the press justifying her suicide, the idea being to make the press believe that she has killed herself because people don't even know where Slovenia is. Her plan fails and she wakes up in Villete, a mental hospital in Slovenia, where she is told she has only a few days to live.

Her presence there affects all of the mental hospital's patients, especially Zedka, who has clinical depression; Mari, who suffers from panic attacks; and Eduard, who has schizophrenia, and with whom Veronika falls in love. During her internment in Villete she realizes that she has nothing to lose and can therefore do what she wants, say what she wants and be who she wants without having to worry about what others think of her; as a mental patient, she is unlikely to be criticized. Because of this new-found freedom Veronika experiences all the things she never allowed herself to experience, including hatred and love.

In the meantime, Villete's head psychiatrist, Dr. Igor, attempts a fascinating but provocative experiment: can you "shock" someone into wanting to live by convincing her that death is imminent? Like a doctor applying defibrillator paddles to a heart attack victim, Dr. Igor's "prognosis" jump-starts Veronika's new appreciation of the world around her.

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