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Grade 6 Up–Chopra presents inspirational life lessons spoken in parables by a mysterious teacher who leads an unnamed narrator through a four-day retreat of self-discovery. With the guidance of Baba, the 15-year-old comes to know his true self by generating answers to four major questions: "Do I have a soul? How do wishes come true? What is the supreme force in the universe? How can I change the world?" The teen and Baba spend a day discussing each question; these four sections are divided into smaller lessons or chapters that end with the young man describing what he learned and how he has applied Baba's wisdom to his life. The didactic text demonstrates a cosmic connection between the soul and all things in deliberate, forced dialogue between the teen and his teacher, and the narrator's internal conversation. The prominent themes are consistent with those common to the genre: finding order in chaos, looking for the missing "something" in life, meaningful communication, and understanding and belief in what one cannot see. The book is rather like Antoine de Saint Exupéry's Le Petit Prince meets Chicken Soup for the Soul. The final section, "A Soul Alphabet," contains inspirational words and motivational prose: appreciation, beyond, communicate…. This nondenominational offering could serve as a textbook for a course on self-exploration, faith, or spiritual discovery.–Jodi Kearns, University of Akron, OH
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Gr. 8-12. Chopra, who has been very successful writing self-help books for adults, now turns to a teenage audience. The messages about one's spiritual self and enlightenment he presents here are not noticeably different from those that he gives to older readers. To deliver the information, he uses a literary device (which the book presents as true, not metaphorical): a wise old man, Baba, comes out of the mist to pass on knowledge to a young Deepak. Older teens will probably smirk, but younger ones may find the interaction both accessible and inviting. Baba's teachings revolve around the questions that most people ask, beginning in young adulthood. "Why am I here?" "Do I have a soul?" "Do wishes come true?" "What is the supreme force in the universe?" Along with answers, Chopra offers words of encouragement and simple suggestions to improve relationships and make the world a better place. Familiar philosophy youthfully repackaged. Ilene Cooper
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.