Wednesday, April 17, 2019


Title:  Hippie
Author:  Paulo Coelho
Publication Information:  Knopf. 2018. 304 pages.
ISBN:  9780525655619 / 978-0525655619

Book Source:  I received this book through the Penguin First to Read program free of cost in exchange for an honest review.

Opening Sentence:  "In September 1970, two sites squared off for the title of the center of the world:  Piccadilly Circus, in London, and Dam Square, in Amsterdam."

Favorite Quote:  "... our travels teach us everything we need to know fro the rest of our lives, as long as there's no need to explain this to our parents."

I had heard of Paul Coelho long before I ever read his work. My first introduction to his work was The Alchemist, which has had a lasting impact and has found a permanent home on my bookshelf. Perhaps because of the nature of that book and perhaps because of where I am in my life's journey, that book speaks to me and inspires me.

Admittedly, I had never read a Paul Coelho book before and have not read one since. So, my entire experience with his writing is based on that one. That means that my entire set of expectations for this book are based on the inspiration I find The Alchemist.

Hippie is a very different sort of book. More than anything, it is a snapshot of a time, a place, and perhaps even a generation. It is the story of a young man in search of himself and in search of meaning. His journey takes him from Brazil to Amsterdam to a journey of self-discovery to what I think is going to be Nepal. Along the way, he meets and befriends many. In particular, Karla is the one who suggests to him a bus journey to Nepal in search of enlightenment.

And not just any bus journey. It is the Magic Bus on what is now known as the Hippie Trail. This overland path from Europe travelled through Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Kashmir, and eventually ended in Nepal. The road became the destination with Westerners meeting up and down the trail. An industry proving food and lodging sprung up along the route. The travel route ended in the 1970s as political changes in the area made travel improbable.

I pick up this book, expecting to read the story of the road. That is not quite what the book is. The story begins in Dam Square in Amsterdam, a gathering place. It also winds back to Paulo's past in Brazil and to some traumatic experiences. More than half way into the book, Michael the driver of the Magic Bus is introduced; his history is perhaps the most intriguing of all but it comes very late in the book. The book then also ends rather abruptly and entirely not in the place where I expect it go.

For the most part, I don't quite know where the book is going. It is possible that it is not meant to be going anywhere but rather just immersing the reader in that time and place. Given my experience with The Alchemist, I expect to be inspired. Perhaps, I am not of the right generation to either relate to this experience or to be inspired by it. I expect a journey of self-discovery, but it seems to end too abruptly for me to find an epiphany.

All in all, I am entertained and intrigued by this snapshot image, but an image is what the book remains. I am left wanting more. On the other hand, I could see it making a great movie for it paints a vivid picture. I walk away with the thought that in this case, it is the journey that matters not the destination.

Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. I would love to "talk" to you.

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