Book Review of The Alchemist: A Fable About Following Your Dream

The Alchemist: A Fable About Following Your Dream
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Helpful Score: 3


"The Alchemist" is the story of Santiago, who leaves his home in search of his "dream". We only learn Santiago's name at the very beginning of the book. After that, the author always refers to him as "the boy" even though it's clear that Santiago is at least 18, which is young but certainly not a boy.

The author fills the book with sayings that I suppose he thinks are profound. I find such books to be a bit of a bore, but in a book aimed at children, things like that are OK. However, what's really disturbing about "The Alchemist" was the sexism. Santiago meets and immediately falls in love with Fatima, a girl who lives at a huge oasis in the desert. He then has this conversation with the wise old Alchemist:

"'Fatima is a woman of the desert,' said the alchemist. 'She knows that men have to go away in order to return. And she already has her treasure: it's you. Now she expects that you will find what it is you're looking for.'

Uh huh. Apparently all the desert women are the same...their "treasure" or "dream" is just to get a man, and then they stay home and wait while the man goes off in search of his own dream. Yikes.

All of the wise ones who Santiago meets on his journey are men, except for the brief appearance of an old Gypsy women at the beginning, although Santiago does believe that she is deceitful and full of trickery.

And what happens when Santiago finally fulfills his dream? It is not the journey itself, the things he learned, or the people he met along the way...it's a...Ha! Bet you can't guess! (Or can you?) And guess where he finds it? Apparently if we all follow our hearts and pay attention to our dreams, we too will find a treasure. As long as we're men.