Jonathan Livingston Seagull
Author: Richard Bach
Genre: Philosophy, Self-Help, Spirituality, Motivation
[This book review is written by my 12 year old daughter, Diza Saxena. The book was written 50 years ago, in a different age and time, and at a shallow level, may be called a naive easy-to-read fable. But I think parents and kids should explore its deeper themes together: finding our true potential, individual ambition vs. society’s curbs, loving even those who oppose us, practicing till we become perfect etc.]
This Glorious Bestseller fable has three incredibly amazing parts.
The first part talks about how Jonathan the seagull is unique, brave and hopeful.
He doesn’t like the idea of the drab life that all other sea gulls lived: just fighting over food, being lazy and staying more or less in the same place the whole day, following the same rules. He wanted to explore the world and fly as high as he could. While on the other hand, the rest of the flock did the opposite. They only wanted food and questioned the idea of flying.
Battling for his dream, and against the concerns of his family and flock, he decides to take off, flying as high as possible and trying to achieve his goals. In the process, he becomes an Outcast, castigated by his flock. But he keeps going and practicing daily till he learns to fly very very high and very very fast in the sky. Then, he meets two seagulls who tell him that now he has learnt a lot, and take him to another level, to another world.
In the next part, in ‘the next world’, he meets a gull who is said to be Jonathan’s instructor, Sullivan. He teaches Jonathan new skills and techniques, making him fly higher and higher. Sullivan also tells Jonathan that whoever reaches perfection in their world enters a new world. It is difficult to do so, but Jonathan was one-in-a-million and accomplished that. Sullivan also explains to Jonathan that there is no such place as heaven. Heaven is simply being perfect. Then, the elder gull tells Jonathan to go work on the last thing, love.
So, Jonathan follows his instructor’s last words and goes back to his old world, to his old flock and tries to motivate them. The flock does not believe in him, calls him the Devil and try to kill him.
But he becomes a teacher and teaches other outcast gulls all the things he has himself learnt. He has a young, little student, Fletcher. He encourages Fletcher to learn so much that one day Fletcher can return to the flock and teach them too. He teaches Fletcher that they must love the image of the Great Gull in everyone, even if they are currently blinded by their ignorance and hatred.
And finally, in the end of the story, Jonathan realises that love, deserved respect and forgiveness are the three things really important to him.
Why should you read the book: This was a powerful and motivational story, written in a very simple style, that teaches people to always follow their dreams and accomplish what they truly want, just like Jonathan the seagull did, even if it makes you different from the others. And continue to work towards what you really believe in despite criticism from everyone else. And while being ambitious, also being large-hearted to continue to love those who criticize you.