Book review: Jonathan Livingston Seagull

Written by Richard Bach
Published by Harper Element

Synopsis: This bestselling modern classic is a fable about seeking a higher purpose in life, even if your flock, tribe or neighbourhood finds your ambition threatening (at one point our beloved gull is even banished from his flock). By not compromising his higher vision, Jonathan learns the meaning of love and kindness and gets the ultimate payoff – transcendence.

I read this book for the first time in my early teens, if not earlier than that, and I vaguely remember not having enjoyed it. That's why - when I saw the cover in my local library last week - I thought it might be nice to revisit this classic and find out whether my adult self could find something good in this story.

The long and short of it is... sadly not! I say 'sadly' because I really wanted to like it. I wanted to prove myself that my taste has evolved in the intervening 20+ years... but perhaps I've been a reader with a strong sense of what I like and what I don't like since the beginning.

I assume that I hadn't seen the point of this book when I was younger and the second reading of it has only confirmed that there wasn't a point to see. It might sound harsh but the plot is feeble and the main character pompous. I can see how the moral of the story is supposed to be that we should all be pursuing our passions and be ourselves no matter what other people think we should do and be.

That would be nice but - somehow - the narration goes a step too far and seems to imply that - while you pursue your true vocation - you are also destined to become arrogant and feel superior than all the others who don't think like you do. A role reversal if there ever was one. I had a quick look at the reviews written on Goodreads and they make for far more interesting reading!

Even the photographs by Russell Munson do not help and only make the narration even more stilted as you have to turn page after page filled with seagulls to continue with the story.

I will welcome any positive comments on this book to help me see it from a different perspective!


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