I bought this book on a whim after reading its synopsis and Veronika Decides to Die doesn’t disappoint. I finished the book fairly quickly and it constantly kept me engaged as a reader. Now, I might watch the movie adaptation as well.
The novel is a story about a 24-year-old girl Veronika who lives in Slovenia. Veronika seems to have everything going on for her, she herself admits this but still decides to kill herself. After Veronika’s suicide attempt she is admitted to a mental institution for treatment. She develops a heart condition because of overdosing on the pills and has only a few days left to live. In the institution, Veronika meets a number of people who have different mental issues like depression, anxiety, and schizophrenia.
At Villete, she finally feels liberated from everything that bothered her before and slowly she feels like living again. The way Veronika describes the numbness that’s a part of her life is something many of us can relate to. There is a story that Zedka tells Veronika at the institution about a mad king; that story is so applicable and in a way makes lots of sense and it was one of my favorite parts of the story. The point of views keep changing throughout the novels and it gave a lot of insight into the characters minds.
The story slowly unravels or tries to unravel the reason Veronika felt the way she did and it makes sense for her as a character. The surprise of the story for me was Eduard, a schizophrenic patient at Villete who Veronika falls in love with. Eduard’s past is also heartbreaking and how circumstances led him to Villete and their love story is really cute.
Then there is the doctor at Villete, Dr. Igor. I didn’t understand in the beginning why he had chapters from his point of view but at the end it makes completes sense. All the characters in the book, add something important to the plot and to Veronika’s journey. After a hard couple of days, Veronika’s will to live is actually renewed. In the beginning, her heart condition doesn’t bother her as it was her aim to die. As the story progresses she realizes all the things she will miss out on and all the things she could do now. Finally, she starts to feel again hatred, love, frustration, hope, everything she probably hid away in herself for years.
The story is engaging and in a strange yet relatable way. When I bought the book I thought it will be too heavy and sad given its title but its surprisingly inspiring. It is an amazing book and it keeps you on the edge till the end and that ending; I didn’t see it coming whatsoever. The book just changed my perspective about the world. It is a must read.
Stories become a part of our life since infancy and stay with us to the end. Over the years the nature of the stories changes, from the mythical or fantasy stories your grandparents tell you for entertainment to the ones you read for inspiration or simply for the sake of pleasure. We all consume stories and the good stories are the ones which always stay with us for a long time.
If you ask any writer established or amateur about the process of writing, there is little possibility of getting similar answers. The art of storytelling like any other form of art doesn’t come with a specific set of rules. The most important thing to storytelling is the perspective; no two perspectives are the same so if your perspective is different it can never be a repetition. There are some components which can make for an effective storytelling.
Realism is necessary to any form of storytelling whether fiction or non-fiction, there needs to be some element of reality in the story, be it through the plot, setting or any other aspect. The audience should be able to have some connection to the story and by keeping things realistic this part is taken care of.
The next important aspect according to me is the characters; they are the heart of the story, literally. The characters are the ones through which we explore the story so the characterization has to be accurate. The characters should be grounded in reality; the characteristics of the characters should be relatable. When the characters are ideal, it is hard to find common ground with them or feel connected to them because they are far too high on a pedestal.
As a storyteller, it is necessary to spend a fair amount of time on the creation of the plot and the characters because they are most important and often the most difficult part of storytelling. There is no need to follow any other perspective than your own. Every person has different reactions to different situations and interprets the scenarios differently; this individuality must be maintained in storytelling.
Inspiration can be taken from anywhere – folktales, myths, classics etc. Personal life experience itself gives a pool of ideas to draw from and I think it can become the most natural way of storytelling as it is close to the heart. With a sprinkle of imagination and words, a whole new world can be created through storytelling.