This is Coelho’s second book I’ve read and although it wasn’t as good as The Alchemist, it was still incredibly well written and moving. I do have a couple more of his books on my shelf and plan on saving them for when I need a break from other books. However, I might need to read the other two books in the ‘trilogy’ (according to Wikipedia) Veronika Decides to Die and The Devil and Miss Prim sooner rather than later.
Deepika, over at Purplebooky reviewed this book and there’s really not much more to add. It’s a deceptively simple love story with religion interwoven and provides a lot of lessons on love, life and faith. Compared to The Alchemist, By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept lacked some impact (the love was definitely there, it just wasn’t as powerful) and the story is a bit less monumental. This is definitely not a bad thing because the simpleness of this story is part of what makes it so beautiful.
If there is one thing I really enjoyed about By the River Piedra, I Sat Down and Wept, it was the challenging of accepted faith. Coelho sets the tone in this story pretty soon by dropping hints about the goddess and the power of a holy trinity with a female addition. His ideas are not new, and to me not revolutionary, but Coelho explains them in such a way that they do not come across as hostile or anti-Christian/anti-establishment. They are subtly woven into the Pilar’s love story and discovery.
Recommendation: Definitely a READ IT! It’s an incredibly swift read and there is so much amazing insight into love, that you can’t help but enjoy this book. And although some of the quotes are really over the top, they are still incredibly beautiful and you should definitely check them out below.
Opening Line: “By the river Piedra I sat down and wept.”
Closing Line: “‘Go and get your things,’ he said. ‘Dreams mean work.'” (Whited out.)
Additional Quotes from By the River Piedra, I Sat Down and Wept
“In real life, love has to be possible. Even if it is not returned right away, love can only survive when the hope exists that you will be able to win over the person you desire.” (28)
“I’ve been in love before. It’s like a narcotic. At first it brings the euphoria of complete surrender. The next day, you want more. You’re not addicted yet, but you like the sensation, and you think you can still control things. You think about the person you love for two minutes, and forget them for three hours…But then you get used to that person, and you begin to be completely dependent on them. Now you think about him for three hours and forget him for two minutes. If he’s not there, you feel like an addict who can’t get a fix. And just as addicts steal and humiliate themselves to get what they need, you’re willing to do anything for love.” (54)
“If pain must come, may it come quickly. Because I have a life to live, and I need to live it in the best way possible. If he has to make a choice, may he make it now. Then I will either wait for him or forget him. Waiting is painful. Forgetting is painful. But not knowing which to do is the worst kind of suffering.” (95)
“Love doesn’t ask many questions, because if we stop to think we become fearful it’s an inexplicable fear; it’s difficult even to describe it. Maybe it’s the fear of being scorned, of not being accepted, or of breaking the spell. It’s ridiculous but that’s the way it is. That’s why you don’t ask—you act. As you’ve said many times, you have to take risks.” (107-8)
“I think that when we look for love courageously, it reveals itself, and we wind up attracting even more love. If one person really wants us, everyone does. But if we’re alone, we become even more alone. Life is strange.” (113)
“This was the kiss I had waited for so long—a kiss born by the rivers of our childhood, when we didn’t yet know what love meant. A kiss that had been suspended in the air as we grew, that had traveled the world in the souvenir of a medal and that had remained hidden behind piles of books. A Kiss that had been lost so many times and now was found. In the moment of that kiss were years of searching, disillusionment, and impossible dreams.” (148)